MILLEDGEVILLE — The process that facilitated traffic control and roadway improvements to the intersection of West Campus Drive and U.S. Highway 441 started with Milledgeville City Council in June 2010.
Council adopted a resolution stating that the “City of Milledgeville agrees to provide design, oversight and installation of new traffic control measures, roadway improvements and West Campus Drive entrance improvements in exchange for Georgia College & State University providing $350,000 for the cost of the referenced traffic control measures and roadway improvements.”
Cissy McNure from Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) Office of Communication said via email this week that the City of Milledgeville elected to perform the project by securing a Special Encroachment Permit.
Within the last few weeks, the West Campus entrance was closed off for a list of road upgrades.
Associate Director for Planning, Construction & Business Services Rick Ruark said time spent working with the city and the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has been worthwhile.
“GDOT brought a lot of great ideas,” Ruark said. “It was getting through the vetting process to get where we are now.”
McNure said the city and college put in the bulk of the planning and implementation.
“West Campus Drive is a city street, while also serving as the main access to several GC facilities; therefore, both the city and college are major stakeholders in this project,” McNure said. “They were responsible for the preliminary engineering, and they are responsible for the roadway construction.”
The final plans include a deceleration lane on the southbound entrance to West Campus Drive from U.S. Highway 441, as well as a right turn lane, a straight lane and a left turn lane on West Campus Drive entering 441.
While the primary focus is traffic flow, Ruark said auxiliary aesthetic additions of a center stone structure element to split the drive and two stone wing walls on either side will boost West Campus identification. No more blinking eye Bobcat.
“We had the big Bobcat sign that nobody paid much attention to before. We are trying to do something more to make this a ‘campus’ for us,” the GC director said.
An overhead beam will connect the sidewall and center entrance elements.
Ruark said the beam will be the same approved interstate minimum height.
The West Campus entrance walls should bring in colors from The Village Housing and the Wellness and Recreation Center. Ruark said the overhead beam and roof of the center drive structure will pick up the GC colors.
“This will bring (West Campus) back into association with the main campus along with giving it the identity it needs,” he said. “There are some great amenities out at West Campus.”
Looks aside, developing safer ingress and egress points are enormous. In the past, vehicles would clog up 40 or 50 deep in the single lane exit.
“The biggest part of this is trying to get people out of this entrance onto the road as efficiently as possible,” Ruark said. “I think you are going to see a huge difference.”
There are no adjacent 441 median alterations included in this project. Left turn lanes remain untouched.
The current traffic numbers aren’t large enough for traffic light installation, though Ruark said it’s a question of when — not if.
“If at some point we do get the numbers for a traffic signal, the entrance will be built to accommodate it. By leaving the median the way it is, it positions it correctly for a traffic signal in the future,” Ruark said. “GDOT won’t have to do anything to our part of the entrance to make it ready. It was worth the time to get it right.”
McNure agrees the “biggest benefit to these improvements is that they are in line with the requirements needed to support a future traffic signal installation.”
The original West Campus Drive finish date was July 31. Constant rainfall pushed that goal back.
Ruark said the Ogles Construction crew is “busting it trying to make things happen.”
The drive construction will likely miss the early August start of Baldwin High School but should be open soon after.
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