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Council: medians will hurt business
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Business owners and council members are upset by the state's insistence on installing medians in the middle of the city's major thoroughfares.

That frustration was evident at Tuesday's council meeting, when councilmen Keith Dalton, Chris Smith and Mike Whatley said they wanted to play hardball with the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Because the state won't remove medians from two separate road projects along U.S. Highway 278 and Alcovy Road, the three councilmen didn't want to sell land that the state needs for road right-of-way on that future Alcovy Road and Ga. Highway 142 project.

Local business owners are upset about the state's plans to install medians at the intersection of Hazelbrand Road and U.S. 278, which is part of the massive widening project being undertaken at the intersection of Ga. 142 and U.S. 278.

"I've talked to every business within that area, and it's almost impossible to make that turn," Dalton said Tuesday. "You have to go to the red light. There are a bunch of business and residential (locations) on both sides of the street."

"That one we've already asked (for) a million times, but it's so far down the pike they won't consider changing that," Mayor Kim Carter said.

Another point of contention is the state's future plans to install medians along Alcovy Road, between Harland Drive and Ga. 142.

Carter said local officials have expressed concern that medians would limit access to local industries in the area and could hinder the location of future industries.

City and county leaders will express their concerns at a Wednesday meeting. Following the meeting, the city will also write an official letter requesting that the medians be removed from the plans.

That was a point of some contention Tuesday night. The councilmen wanted to send the letter immediately, while the three councilwomen and the mayor voted to wait until after the Sept. 14 meeting to send the letter. The mayor's vote was needed to break the 3-3 tie.

The next agenda item was the discussion of selling right-of-way land and giving easements for the road project at Alcovy Road and Ga. 142.

"If we're going to help them they need to help us," said Smith.

City Manager Steve Horton said the issue is that the state will get the land and easements one way or the other.

"But we can send a message can't we?" Smith asked. "We can put them off."

"I would advise us not to do that. The way the process works is less than desirable, but I don't know that that message would be received," Carter said.

She said the state considers the Alcovy Road and U.S. 278 projects separate from each other and won't mix the two.

"We've had numerous meetings about 278 and that's done. We tried to get a new entrance at Mamie's Kitchen. We tried to do a different configuration coming off Floyd Street," Carter said. "we don't want to muddy this project (Alcovy Road), hold it up, for something we don't like on 278.

"We can say man you have really screwed up these businesses, but the outcome won't change," she added later.

In the end, the council had another split vote to sell the right-of-way, with the mayor once again casting the tie-breaking vote in favor of the sale. She said that she will carry the council's concerns, and even the fact of the split vote, to state officials at the Wednesday meeting.

In other median news, medians are going to be installed to increase safety along U.S. 278 from Mill Street east to Industrial Boulevard. The medians will separate dedicated turn lanes from regular traffic and replace the current single middle turn lane, Transportation Manager Billy Skinner said previously. The state is paying for the median installation.

The council had previously voted to pay up to $110,000 to resurface the road when those medians were installed, but it unanimously overturned that decision Tuesday because Horton informed the council that the resurfacing was not necessary.