A group of concerned citizens, members of the Douglasville City Council, county and state elected officials came out to Stewart Middle School Monday night to meet with a delegation of representatives of the Georgia Department of Transportation, who gave an update on the Highway 92 Relocation and Widening project in Douglasville.
The GDOT representatives, which included Dana Lemon, GDOT board member who represents the 13th Congressional District, were also there to listen to concerns and answer questions.
Wilson Covington, senior vice president of King Industrial Realty, spoke to representatives of GDOT Monday night regarding the impact the permanent closure of Mozley Street has on industrial businesses in the area.
He said the problem with the permanent closure was that this was the main access to the Odessa Industrial Park.
Prior to the meeting, Covington told the Sentinel, "As an owner and landlord of two buildings in the park, this is disastrous. Access for employees and 18-wheel trucks, when it comes to manufacturing, warehousing and distribution buildings, is paramount. The new access route, provided by the DOT and city, makes it nearly impossible and extremely dangerous for anyone, especially tractor trailers, to access the park."
Following Monday night's meeting, he said the concerns were addressed by GDOT, but not resolved.
"I believe 95 percent of the meeting was about the giant mess that closing of Mozley Street has created for the entire community," Covington said. "However, our concerns or issue is that we have an entire industrial park — eight buildings consisting of roughly 75,000 square feet— that wasn’t properly notified of the permanent closure and no real adequate arrangements were made for the daily truck traffic which is vital for operations of a manufacturing and warehouse facility."
He said, "As an investor and the and stakeholder in the industrial park and community, this destroys the functionality and value of my investment."
Covington said they have four to five trucks going in and out every day.
Lemon has offered to meet with Covington to come up with a specific solution to the problem.
She said, “We know the detour poses quite a challenge. The Mozley crossing is very important to us. This is a wonderful project, but some engineering has to be done to get it fixed.”
As to the permanent closing of Mozley Street, a GDOT representative at the meeting said, “We tried to do something temporary, but it just wouldn’t work.”
Other concerns raised were that trucks have torn up a citizen’s lower driveway and emergency response time in the area of Huey and Maloney Mill Roads have increased.
Speakers also cited safety issues for children, using residential neighborhoods as a cut through and grass being allowed to grow high and not being cut by the contractor in the construction areas.
Kathy Zahul, GDOT project manager, said the GDOT will make sure the area is patched now and that they have plans to improve the road when the project is completed.
Another speaker asked if the traffic light could be held a little longer going up Highway 92 at Bankhead Highway/78.
Zahul replied that the contractor, C.W. Matthews is responsible for traffic signal timing during the life of theconstruction, but said GDOT will work with them to address that.
“The safety of children and response time makes this project even more important,” she said.
Covington acknowledged that when the new truck routes are open in an estimated two years, access should be excellent, but posed the question, "what happens 'til then?"
The Highway 92 relocation and widening project in the city of Douglasville is separated into three phases, according to Albert Shelby, director of program delivery with GDOT.
The purpose of the project, according to GDOT is to “provide continuous, multi-roadway that connects Douglasville eastside with the westside, to provide better travel time and access to I-20, and most importantly, to improve the level of service and reduce rash frequency and severity along the SR 92 corridor and alleviate congestion in the downtown Douglasville area.”
The completion date of the project is expected for November 2020. Construction on the project began during the summer of 2014 and is 54 percent complete.
Delays in the construction have been attributed to “obstacles” due to unforeseen site conditions in the three bridges to build at the Strickland Street, Bankhead Highway where they had to dig through rock, and in construction of the Norfolk Southern Railroad underpass.
Phase I of the project that is underway includes the grade separation of relocated SR 92 at SR 5/US 78 Bankhead Highway, at Norfolk Southern Corporation railroad, and at Strickland Street. The project includes the closing of at-grade railroad crossings at Brown Street, Mozley Street, and SR 92/Dallas Highway, while relocating the McCarley Street at-grade RR crossing 100 feet to the west of the existing crossing for a better grade.
Phase II begins at Pine Drive (south of I-20 Interchange at SR 92) and goes north on the new location to SR 5/US 78/Bankhead Highway where it will tie to phase one.
Phase III begins at the intersection of relocated SR 92 and relocated Ellis Street where it connects with Phase I. It ends just north of the existing intersection of SR 92/Dallas Highway and Malone Road.