TSPLOST Would Fund Windy Hill/U.S. 41 Intersection Improvements
Plans for improvements to one of metro Atlanta's worst intersections were included on Cobb County's local TSPLOST project list. Voters decide whether to approve the list with the July 31 Regional Transportation Referendum.
The intersection of Windy Hill Road and U.S. 41 is considered one of the worst in metro Atlanta, but Cobb County officials have plans to improve it should the Regional Transportation Referendum pass on July 31.
At a recent District 2 Town Hall Meeting, Dan McDuff, Cobb County Department of Transportation’s deputy director, said that if voters approve the one-cent special-purpose local-option sales tax collected over 10 years, 15 percent of that revenue would fund a list of local projects including a possible interchange at the intersection of Windy Hill Road and U.S. 41.
“The problem is we’ve added all the turns lanes, we’ve added left turn lanes, we’ve done all we can possibly do with that signal to optimize the traffic,” he said. “But in the peak periods we cannot handle the demand. So it’s gridlocked. That’s the last thing we do to that intersection is put an interchange there. Cobb at Windy Hill is certainly one of those projects.”
McDuff said that the Cobb DOT staff has discussed several options for the intersection including constructing a U.S. 41 tunnel beneath Windy Hill Road. Another option is to build a Windy Hill Road overpass above the intersection with on and off-ramps to provide access to U.S. 41. There was one option McDuff said was not on the table.
“No cloverleaf, just because of the businesses in the area, but the interchange could still have an impact on the businesses on the corners,” he said. “But if we move forward we’ll certainly have public meetings out there to show you everything we’re thinking of and get input from the public.”
The fate of these and other transportation improvements depend on the passage of the TSPLOST, said Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee.
“But rest assured, there is no Plan B,” he said. “And sometimes doing nothing is moving backward as the whole world moves forward. But it’s up to you. I’m not going to tell you one way or the other except I’m asking you to get educated on it and make an educated vote. Don’t kneejerk this one. It’s too important, too big and too complex to kneejerk.”
Some voters and elected officials feel that the referendum in its current form is unconstitutional. On July 31, voters in 10 counties will go to the polls. If a majority of the counties vote in favor of the TSPLOST, it will be levied in all 10 counties. There is no way for counties who vote down the measure to opt out.
Susan Wilkinson, Smyrna’s Ward 5 City Council representative, asked if the county was looking into improvements to the Windy Hill Road corridor between South Cobb Drive and Atlanta Road as traffic in that area has increased since the opening of the Windy Mac Connector opened last summer.
“What happens in that area is people everyday get on Windy Hill and are riding through our neighborhoods to get to the other side of South Cobb out to west Cobb,” she said.
Faye Dimassimo, Cobb County Department of Transportation’s director, said her office has been monitoring traffic patterns in the area since before the connector opened.
“The city of Smyrna expressed all along a fear about that connectivity was going to put a lot more traffic into Smyrna,” she said. “We are monitoring that closely with city staff and looking at what kinds of things can be done that will help alleviate that. We’re kind of just trying to monitor too. You know traffic starts off one way and then kind of settles into a pattern of where people are actually traveling. We’re still looking at all that together to make sure we’re coming up with either operational improvements or more major improvements.”
One major improvement that’s already been approved by voters is the Windy Hill Boulevard concept, which was included on the 2011 SPLOST list. McDuff said the county has put $2 million aside for these improvements. The city of Smyrna will oversee its design and implementation.