MILTON, Ga. — A road repaving set for downtown Crabapple will have far more significant impacts than new pavement.
The Florida-T intersection at Green Road and Crabapple Road, an intersection improvement project completed just over two years ago, will be deleted during repaving of Crabapple Road, and the intersection will return to its previous traffic pattern in the upcoming weeks.
The intersection was completed through GDOT’s “quick response” program, an improvement project like restriping, intersection improvements or other road upgrades that can be completed quickly and for under $200,000. GDOT moved to take on the project with a $75,000 contribution from Milton, and after planning and engineering, the new traffic pattern opened in April 2019.
However, GDOT has reversed course on the project and will delete the Florida-T as it repaves Crabapple Road.
The agency reported several issues at the intersection during a March study, which noted that the lane widths are “less than desirable” and, in some cases, below GDOT standards. It also took note that right-of-way is restricted and could limit any future widening, cars traveling east on Crabapple are striking the median and there is no shoulder outside the eastbound lane.
“Due to the constraints found in the field, the lanes and concrete island could not property be constructed according to design,” the report stated. “This discrepancy between the construction and design process has led to a new issue of substandard land width and taper length.”
Milton Transportation Engineer Sara Leaders said the project plan was based on a concept layout using aerial imagery versus a detailed design. This was the same method used for the Birmingham Highway/Batesville Road improvement project that was “successful,” she said.
However, the less intensive study resulted in many of the issues GDOT reported at Green and Crabapple.
“During construction of [the Ga. 372 project at Green Road], the contractor made some adjustments due to field conditions that deviated from the concept plan, and those created a ripple effect through the entire layout impacting tapers, lane widths and shoulders,” Leaders said.
Milton was not aware the project could be nullified when it chose to move ahead with improvements, Leaders said, but it is exploring other ways the intersection might be improved to increase traffic flow.
“The city is working on getting a survey to identify the right of way and all roadway features once the repaving (of Crabapple Road) is completed,” she said. “The city also provided GDOT with traffic counts at this intersection from 2018, and GDOT is looking at intersection control evaluations.”
Any solutions likely won’t come quickly.
Heather Sparkes, a resident of the Waterside subdivision on Green Road, voiced several concerns with the deletion of the Florida-T at the City Council’s July 7 meeting.
Sparkes said the Florida-T has improved the safety of the intersection and has vastly improved backups. However, the deletion of the project will create a “less safe” intersection, especially with drivers being forced to cross another lane of traffic — the left turn lane on Crabapple that will be remain after the Florida-T is removed.
“In addition to the safety component, the changes will almost certainly take us back to the congestion problems we had at the intersection, on Green Road specifically, prior to the installation of the Florida-T,” Sparkes said.
Sparkes said she intentionally avoided the intersection prior to the Florida-T for safety reasons, adding that many Waterside residents do the same, which creates more traffic on nearby roads.
She also said a phone call to GDOT with Waterside residents to explore alternate ways of keeping the Florida-T in place were fruitless, and they were given no timeline on when a future improvement project could be set in motion.
The transition back to the former layout of the intersection will begin soon. GDOT was expected to begin repaving Crabapple Road in early July, but weather has pushed back the timeline. Leaders said repaving is expected to be completed by Aug. 31.