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Duluth updated on connector

DULUTH - Representatives of engineering firms hired by Duluth to design and conduct studies for the proposed hospital connector updated the City Council on Monday on the status of the project.

Steve Roberts with Bron Cleveland Associates reviewed the history of the hospital connector, which was proposed as part of a traffic improvement study by Jordan Jones & Goulding in 2001.

Initial design plans have been developed by the firm of Clark Patterson Lee.

The new 1,300-foot road would connect a proposed Duluth High School entrance on Abbott's Bridge Road (Ga. Highway 120) to a proposed roundabout at the intersection of McClure Bridge Road and West Lawrenceville Street. Access to Irvindale Road also would be provided via the roundabout.

"This concept will alleviate congestion, enhance connectivity and improve pedestrian access and traffic flow within the downtown Duluth area," Roberts said.

The roundabout has been designed to also connect with an extension of Ridgeway Road, but the council agreed in August to indefinitely postpone a decision on extending the dead-end road due to opposition from homeowners concerned about increased traffic.

The project derives its name from the former Joan Glancy Memorial Hospital, now a rehabilitation center, located on McClure Bridge Road.

Mike Rushing with Kimley-Horn & Associates informed the council that the need for a traffic signal at the intersection of the Duluth High School driveway and Abbott's Bridge Road had not been studied because the driveway had not been included in the original concept for the connector. The amount of traffic might not warrant a signal, he said.

Charlotte Weber with Jordan, Jones & Goulding, which is assessing the environmental impact of the project, reported that the required studies have been submitted to the Federal Highway Administration. The environmental studies also would have to be submitted to Georgia Department of Transportation for approval. "In the best case scenario," she said, the project could receive environmental clearance from GDOT in March.

After environmental clearance has been acquired, Clark Patterson Lee would submit the design plans for formal review and approval by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The next steps would include right of way acquisition, obtaining approval from GDOT on final plans, and advertising for bids. Once a contract has been awarded, construction of the project is estimated to take about 12 to 18 months.

In response to a request from Jim Hambrick to consider realigning the connector to reduce the impact on his property located on the east side of connector, Ossie Brewer with Clark Patterson Lee said revisions to construction plans and additional environmental studies would be required and would delay the project.

Adolfo Guzman with Clark Patterson Lee added that the realignment would severely impact three parcels containing homes on the west side of the connector, and all rather than part of these parcels might have to be obtained for right of way. The connector was designed to balance the impact on property owners, he said, and avoid displacing homeowners.