Concept report offers new details about state route 81 widening

Concept layout for state route 81 widening project at Postmaster Drive (Georgia DOT photo)
Concept layout for state route 81 widening project at Postmaster Drive (Georgia DOT photo)
A multilane roundabout is planned at SR 81 and Postmaster Drive. (Georgia DOT photo)

Georgia DOT has approved the concept report offering new details about phase I of the highway 81 widening. The project extends from Postmaster Drive, where the under-construction one way pair terminates, to Bethany Road.

An open house displaying the project’s concept layout and providing residents an opportunity to submit comments is expected in April. Right of way acquisition will begin later this year.

Henry County has applied for federal construction funding through the Atlanta Regional Commission. The county will learn in the spring if it has been awarded the federal funding, and if so, in which fiscal year. Total project costs, including all phases, are estimated at $38.8 million.

Preliminary engineering, the first step towards a second widening project from Bethany Road to Keys Ferry, is also included within the application for federal transportation funding. Henry County SPLOST V includes the local match for design work if the funds are awarded.

Roadway will become severely congested by 2045 without improvements

In 2016, state route 81 carried 25,150 daily vehicles. This is estimated to increase to 44,700 daily vehicles by 2045 resulting in level of service “F,” when traffic volumes exceed the capacity of the roadway, if no improvements are made.

The project proposes to expand the roadway from its existing condition to include four travel lanes, left-hand and right-hand turning lanes where appropriate, and a twenty-foot raised median. A five-foot sidewalk and ten-foot shared use path will also be constructed along either side of the roadway.

The road has experienced 339 crashes in the three-year time period between 2015 and 2017, resulting in 138 total injuries and zero fatalities. During this time period, 65% of all crashes were rear-end collisions. The addition of turn lanes will allow motorists to safely decelerate while exiting the roadway reducing the number of crashes.

Center median creates R-Cuts and right-in / right-out intersections

Existing traffic signals will remain; but the addition of a center median will create restricted crossing U-turns and right-in / right-out intersections at other locations. This improves safety by removing the option for motorists to perform unprotected left-hand turns.

Several R-Cuts are in use along state route 20 west of McDonough, like Simpson Mill and Oakland Road. R-Cuts allow left-hand turns from the main roadway to a side street, but only right-hand turns from the side street into the major road. U-turn opportunities are built along the roadway so that motorists may reverse direction.

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Clayton Carte is the founder and owner of MHF News. Since 2017, he has written over 900 articles sharing local updates with the community.