Facing a traffic bottleneck on J.R. Allen Parkway from Bradley Park Drive into Phenix City, the city’s Planning Department won approval Tuesday for the Georgia Department of Transportation to conduct a $200,000 study on the roadway.
Columbus Council approved the agreement during Tuesday’s meeting on the corridor also known as U.S. 80. The study will determine whether an additional lane is needed in both directions and examine the interchanges to see if they warrant improvements.
The east-west corridor averages up to 60,000 vehicle trips per day in some locations on the four-lane highway. Traffic stalls during the rush hour in the afternoon as motorists try to return home to Phenix City from Columbus.
Rick Jones, director of the Planning Department, said a third lane may be required at some point to reduce the traffic congestion. “We’re looking at trying to figure out what we should be trying to achieve with this roadway to make sure it still functions as a roadway over the next five or 10 years,” Jones told council.
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You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see the amount of traffic backing up, trying to get over into Alabama, said Councilor Glenn Davis. He recalled a meeting the city had with the DOT and local lawmakers in the state delegation.
“What I see is a step to try to figure out what we can do,” Davis said. “I know there is probably limited options but we need to figure out something. Backed up traffic lines are not getting any smaller. I welcome this study and I think in large part, that is what this is all about.”
Although Columbus Council has expressed its support for the extension of Interstate 14 from Texas through Columbus, Councilor Judy Thomas wanted to know if it would be included in the study. If I-14 is extended, it could run along J.R. Allen Parkway/Highway 80 with little modification to the current parkway.
Jones said I-14 is not part of the study. “The full intent of the study is not to address any type of interstate connections at this point,” he said.
The study will cost Columbus $40,000, a 20 percent match of the total cost.