Two weeks ago, more than 20 business and property owners on Lafayette Road in Fort Oglethorpe submitted a petition to both the city and the Georgia Department of Transportation objecting to planned raised medians that would block left-hand turns into many establishments along the road.
The plan impacts the stretch of road from the south end of the Kmart plaza parking lot to the south end of St. Gerard Catholic Church property.
In response, the city on Aug. 7 “submitted a written request to the department of transportation requesting removal of three of the five medians contained in the GDOT plans. The northernmost and the southernmost medians will remain as gateways to the city’s oldest commercial district, the Lafayette corridor,” says City Manager Jennifer Simpkins.
On Aug. 30, the city announced that Arcadis, the GDOT design consultant on the project, had contacted GDOT and said that the removal of medians as requested by the city should not have a negative impact on the project. “The modified design has been approved by GDOT,” Simpkins said.
Simpkins said the letter the city sent to GDOT stated that the city “intends to pursue signage, trees and landscaping” within the two remaining medians “to announce the arrival to the city’s oldest commercial district for those traveling north from the Chickamauga Battlefield and south from Battlefield Parkway.”
While business owners welcome the change, there is still one concern. The southern median limits access to one of the drives going into St. Gerard Catholic Church. Father Wise, the priest at St. Gerard, said he would like to see that median shortened so the 300 people who attend his church each week can get in and out easily.
“Our church property is loaded with trees and I don’t believe we’re an eyesore to the area,” he said.
Wise said that trees in a shorter median area could look like an extension of the beauty of the church, which itself has long added to the appeal of the transition from Fort Oglethorpe into the Battlefield, without impeding the ability of parishioners to get in and out of services.
Here is the press release issued Thursday, Aug. 30, by Fort Oglethorpe City Manager Jenny Simpkins:
“The Georgia Department of Transportation, Arcadis, U.S., Inc., and the City of Fort Oglethorpe hosted a Public Information Open House to review the final layout of the $3,000,000 federally-funded project to improve Lafayette Road from Harker Road to Battlefield Parkway on Tuesday, August 7, 2018. Over 50 city leaders, business owners, and residents attended the open house. The proposed improvements along the 0.8-mile corridor include two traffic lanes in each direction with five raised medians, decorative crosswalks, intersection upgrades, shared bicycle lanes, and landscaped strips between the curb and the sidewalks.
“At the open house, many expressed excitement and support for the proposed project aimed at restoring the city's oldest commercial district to its original prosperity. Some business owners along the corridor ex-pressed concern that medians in front of entrances may prohibit ingress and egress of customers to their businesses.
“The city sent a letter to the GDOT project manager on August 21st requesting the removal of the three medians between Gilbert Drive to the North and Enscore Street to the South from the final design. The northernmost median between Gilbert Drive and Battlefield Parkway and the southernmost median between Enscore Street and Harker Road will remain as gateways to the Lafayette corridor, consistent with the intent of the 2015 Lafayette Street Master Plan. The letter states that city intends to pursue signage, trees, and landscaping within these two medians to announce arrival to the city's oldest commercial district for those traveling north from the Chickamauga Battlefield and south from Battlefield Parkway.
“On August 24, Arcadis responded with a letter to the GDOT project manager stating that the city's request to eliminate all medians from the corridor with the exception of the northernmost and southernmost medians should not have a negative impact to the project justification or safety of the corridor compared to existing conditions. The modified design has been approved by GDOT.
“For more information on the project, please visit www.foriogov.com/LaFayette Road Streetscape. The revised final design will be posted upon receival from the project manager.”