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Winder looking at ways to improve traffic flow

WINDER - There's no question that traffic in Winder is anything but good.

But what to do to improve it remains a question.

The Georgia Department of Transportation recently completed a study of the city's traffic woes, and will give Winder four alternate scenarios that would improve flow.

But Bob Beck, Winder's administrator, said at least one of the plans - what GDOT spokeswoman Teri Pope called the department's preferred recommendation - is unlikely to happen.

"That's just pie in the sky," he said. "It can't be done."

Winder will not receive the Downtown Thoroughfare Study until August, but Beck said one proposal, which would make Broad Street one way southbound and extend Jackson Street, making it one way northbound, is too expensive to even be considered.

The Jackson Street extension would have to go through land owned by the First Baptist Church, he said, which would cost the city as much as $6 million. From there, as many as 17 other parcels would also be affected.

Additionally, the recommendation calls for converting Midland Street to a one way eastbound thoroughfare and Stephens to one way westbound, something Beck said would disrupt a lot of families.

The plans are only drafts - they won't be finalized until the city gets a final report in August - and even then, they are only recommendations, Pope said. The department paid for five test scenarios, determining the average speed, average delay and total number of trips on each reconfigured route.

Even if the city did pick one of the suggestions, Pope said, it would be at least seven years before actual construction would start.

Instead of taking each scenario as a whole, Beck said he wants to bring parts of each to the city council, along with some other recommendations - such as removing some traffic lights or converting four-way stops to two-way stops. But even those changes would not take place until January, he said, to give the public time to comment.

Beck said he was "tickled to death" that GDOT had conducted the study, which will save the city money when it considers modeling other traffic options. But the change that would best help traffic flow in the city, he said, would be the reopening of a railroad crossing at Ga. Highway 8 and Ed Hogan Road that was closed due to an accident. That crossing would allow better access to the Wal-Mart shopping center and keep people from driving through

downtown.

A project to widen the intersection from Horton Street to McNeal Street will begin in March, Beck said. That should also help ease traffic that gets backed up by people trying to turn.

"The most positive thing I can tell you about Winder's traffic flow is it will get better," Beck said.