Martinez, GA – On Tuesday, Columbia County leaders decided to start planning work on a busy road that affects school traffic.
The new Martinez Elementary School, located on Flowing Wells Road, will be packed with almost 800 students starting this week. Now, commissioners are taking control of a widening project that will ease congestion on the popular road.
While many are excited for the doors to open for school at Martinez Elementary, there are some who have some concerns.
“The traffic is so bad,” said Gwenn Seigart.
As cars zip by on Flowing Wells Road during rush hour, people who live on the busy street are expecting the lines to grow.
“Now that the new school is bigger and opening up, I mean most of the time when I come to work up to Columbia Road, I have to go down to I think it’s Maywood and come the back way because it’s almost impossible to get in and out here,” said Seigart.
While hundreds of students and staff pack the new school Wednesday, county traffic engineers will be getting to work on a widening plan.
“It’s a major cut-through from I-20 to Washington Road, so we need to get it going quick,” said Matt Schlachter, Director of Engineering Services in Columbia County.
County commissioners approved funds to get the project design started, something the Georgia Department of Transportation was originally set to do.
“The whole purpose of Columbia County taking this from GDOT was to advance it, so we are going to try to get this thing designed as quick as possible, right now GDOT has it scheduled to go in 2019, we are hoping to push that up to 2018,” said Schlachter.
The plan is to make Flowing Wells a three-lane road with a center turn lane, right turn lanes, sidewalks, and bike paths.
Right now, engineers aren’t sure if and what property owners will be affected by the estimated $20 million project.
“Based on the concept we’ve seen, there’s not a lot of impact to the majority of the owners, when you get down close to Columbia Road and Washington Road, there are some impacts, possible relocations of some house,” said Schlachter.
Although the county is taking control of the project, the funding will come entirely from the GDOT. The county will pay for construction up front, and then will be reimbursed by the state.