Comments sought on proposed hospital connector in Duluth

DULUTH - Duluth residents have until Aug. 14 to submit written comments to the Georgia Department of Transportation on the proposed hospital connector.

About 65 residents gathered around large displays of plans for the connector and posed questions to project engineers and city officials during a community open house Thursday at City Hall. They had the option of recording verbal statements or submitting written comments at the informal session hosted by the city to inform residents about the roadway and obtain public input.

The connector and other improvements have been proposed to improve traffic flow and alleviate congestion in the area. Public input is being sought prior to seeking state and federal environmental approval for the connector.

The .23-mile roadway would connect Ga. Highway 120 (Abbotts Bridge Road) to McClure Bridge Road where the former Joan Glancy Memorial Hospital was located. The hospital now serves as a rehabilitation center. The connecting road is estimated to cost $2.8 million.

The connector would consist of two 12-foot-wide lanes (one in each direction) with a 12-foot-wide raised median, a westbound auxiliary lane, and right- and left-turn lanes. There would be 10-foot shoulders with five-foot sidewalks on both sides of the roadway. The speed limit would be 35 mph.

The plans also include turn lanes along Ga. 120 at its intersection with the proposed connector and at the future entrance of Duluth High School.

A "roundabout" would link the hospital connector, McClure Bridge Road, Irvindale Road, West Lawrenceville Street, and a proposed extension of Ridgeway Road. Vehicles would enter the circular one-lane roundabout after yielding to other traffic and exit to one of the five roads.

"We're probably about three to six months away from obtaining environmental approval," Duluth City Councilman Marsha Anderson Bomar told a resident attending the open house. "Within a year, the road could be under construction, and in 12 to 18 months we could be driving on it."

The plans will be on display in the Community Room in the basement of Duluth City Hall until Aug. 10. Comments may be mailed to Glenn Bowman, P.E., State Environmental/Location Engineer, 3993 Aviation Circle, Atlanta, GA 30336, online at www.dot.ga.gov. Click on Public Outreach from the Information Center drop-down menu.

The Ridgeway Road extension, a part of the overall project, has drawn opposition. Nearly a dozen residents of Ridgeway Road and nearby subdivisions appealed to the Duluth City Council at its July 14 meeting to abandon plans to extend the road.

The residents expressed concern the Ridgeway Road extension would increase traffic and disrupt their quiet neighborhood.

Councilman Bomar indicated at the open house that the council may ask city engineers to review the need for the Ridgeway Road extension due to changes that have occurred in the area since the project was conceived. "It's been a long time since anyone looked at the different pieces of the project," she said.

The city may also sponsor an informational session on the Ridgeway Road extension in the near future.