Signals tweaked to help 78 flow

LAWRENCEVILLE - Eventually, a median on U.S. Highway 78 will be a blessing for drivers. But in its first day of road construction, the project took a toll.

After a rough Tuesday for commuters on the highway, the Georgia Department of Transportation has made some changes, making it easier to get down the road.

GDOT spokesman Mark McKinnon said the timing of traffic lights on the street was tweaked to take full advantage of the lane changes that occurred as part of a project to remove the reversible lane system.

"We had been tweaking the timing to get ready for this project," McKinnon said. "Now that we've seen what the pattern is, we can go in and adjust it. We're going to continue tweaking it."

McKinnon said the changes to the traffic light timing should mean that the road flows more smoothly through the work zone.

A car accident that also snarled rush hour traffic in the area does not seem to be related to the project, he said. The altered signals will not prevent accidents, but will optimize the way cars back up at the lights and how they move, he said.

The roadwork, which started Monday night, removed the reversible lane from East and West Park Place to Stone Drive so that it has three lanes headed west, two headed east and a center turn lane.

"That first day, they had some delays out there," McKinnon said.

The $31 million will convert the existing reversible lane system on parts of Highway 78 to a road with a median.

Workers will be in the construction zone every night but Saturday from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Crews are now working on the eastbound side of 78, closing the outside lane nightly from East and West Park Place to Stone Drive.

The reversible lane system will remain in place from Stone Drive to Ga. Highway 124, but will come down as work moves east.

The project is expected to be finished Nov. 30, 2009.

Drivers are urged to call 511, a free phone service that provides real-time traffic and travel information statewide, for information about the project. Drivers can also e-mail tpope@dot.ga.gov to receive construction updates.