Council to talk adding lane to Whitlock, Polk
by Hilary Butschek
June 25, 2014 04:00 AM | 3327 views | 9 9 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Drivers sitting in traffic backups on Whitlock Avenue and Polk Street as they leave Marietta could soon get relief.

City Councilman Andy Morris will propose adding one westbound lane on Whitlock Avenue and another westbound lane on Polk Street for traffic moving away from downtown Marietta at the council’s public works committee tonight.

“Traffic has always been a problem on Whitlock and at Polk Street,” Morris said.

Mayor Steve Tumlin said he is curious to see the proposal to determine if it has a chance of reducing traffic in the Whitlock area.

“I don’t know if it’ll do what we want or not,” Tumlin said.

Tumlin said, depending on how far the new lane extends, it could still create a bottleneck effect as drivers flow out of Marietta.

Morris said he wants to discuss adding one lane on Whitlock Avenue beginning at the intersection of Kirkpatrick Drive near a Waffle House, leading away from the city to Burnt Hickory Road, next to Kroger, a distance of about half a mile.

Right now, Whitlock Avenue has a westbound lane, an eastbound lane and a middle turn lane, and Polk Street has two lanes.

The idea will be discussed to determine whether it would involve widening the roads or possibly restriping them to achieve narrower lanes.

“It’s a bottleneck there trying to get them moving (on Whitlock Avenue) from Kirkpatrick Drive out of Marietta,” Morris said.

Councilman Johnny Walker, who represents that section of Whitlock Avenue, said he likes the idea of the new lanes.

“I think it could work to help get traffic out of Marietta,” Walker said. “I think it could be a good thing.”

Walker said he would be skeptical of the proposal if it allows more people to cut through Marietta as they leave the Atlanta area and head west toward Paulding County.

“I don’t want to keep creating ways for people to cut through,” Walker said.

Walker said he will also propose lowering the speed limits on five streets off of Whitlock Avenue from 30 miles per hour to 25 to discourage commuters from using them as shortcuts through Marietta neighborhoods.

The streets include Kirkpatrick Drive, Hazel Street, Durham Street, McDonald Street and Pomeroy Street.

Councilman Grif Chalfant, who chairs the public works committee, said he wants to know more about the plan to widen the road before making a judgment because he is not in favor of making Whitlock a four-lane road.

“It could help (between Kirkpatrick Drive and Burnt Hickory Road), but I don’t think it needs to go any further. I’m still apprehensive about doing it because the next step is a four-lane Whitlock,” Chalfant said.

Chalfant opposes making Whitlock Avenue four lanes wide because he doesn’t want to give people who don’t live in the area a way to cut through Marietta.

Morris’ proposal would not make Whitlock Avenue four lanes, but it comes at a time of redevelopment in the area. Changes to the road continue to be proposed while it is under construction for a streetscape project funded by the $68 million redevelopment bond issuance passed in October.

The streetscape project, which will cost $4 million, will put in sidewalks, pedestrian crossing lights, trees and decorative signs along a 1.5-mile stretch of Whitlock Avenue between Oakmont Drive, which leads to Marietta Middle School, and Polk Street Extension, which is next to a Kroger.

“I thought it would be a good time to bring it up,” Morris said.

Dan Conn, the city’s public works director, said his department will wait for the council’s direction before taking any action on the proposal. The city doesn’t yet know what it would cost.

In addition, Morris is proposing adding one westbound lane on Polk Street leading away from the city to Burnt Hickory Road, where he said traffic backs up.

Chalfant said a traffic study may be ordered for the area to test the proposal.

Walker agreed with Chalfant.

“It makes sense to me to do a traffic study to see if this would work,” Walker said.

If the council gives the go-ahead to the city’s public works department, it will draw up plans for the added lanes. But those plans could be delayed because the Georgia Department of Transportation would have to approve the plans for Whitlock Avenue because it is a state highway, Chalfant said.

“We’d have to work through a lot of red tape, so it’s a long ways away,” Chalfant said.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Not Good Enough
June 26, 2014
Whitlock, even with an extra lane will still be congested, and Polk should be left alone to remain what it essentially is....a residential street. Finish the loop or go back to the drawing board and work out some other western by-pass. Preserve Marietta.
June 25, 2014
Paulding county commuters are the PROBLEM!! Seventy-five percent of Paulding residents leave Paulding each day to their jobs in other counties. These aggressive speeders clog our roads, including Dallas Hwy, Whitlock, Kennesaw Due West, Barrett Pkwy and many others. How can we keep Paulding county commuters from clogging our roads? Too bad we can't install toll booths.
June 25, 2014
Wow, I moved out of the area eleven years ago, and still debating the same thing.
Dave Z
June 25, 2014
I think the half-mile extra lane on westbound Whitlock makes sense, as it would (I assume) become a right-turn-only lane onto Burnt Hickory. Nothing wrong with getting those west Cobb folks on their way - and out of our way.

The Polk Street extra lane would likely be too little bang for the bucks.
water flows...
June 26, 2014
Heavy traffic is THE ONLY impediment to developers adding more tract homes further out.

Whenever you alleviate a sore spot of traffic, the developers come along behind you and build more developments until the traffic again overflows.

Then you get more sore spots a little further out where traffic capacity has not been expanded.

Who gained anything? The developers who built the new tract homes made some money. The DOT contractors made some money. The oil shieks and US 41 car barons made some money. How about you and me, though. Nope, we literally paved their way to more money.

June 25, 2014
Hopefully, the Council and Mayor will give more thought to changes on Whitlock than they did for Church Street. The problem with Whitlock is not going away. We have lived with this for years and would rather not do anything to encourage more traffic. Thank you Grif Chalfant for thinking of this. This is a beautiful area and over the years, we have opted for the beauty and history, rather than convenience and speed.
more developers
June 25, 2014
If you add more lanes to where traffic on Whitlock is tolerable, developers will just build more houses way out there and return the situation to intolerable in less than two years. Nobody wins ,except for the real estate guys.
the missing loop
June 25, 2014
City of Marietta, go back to the original plan and build the rest of the dang Marietta Parkway!!!! Why keep trying to "fix Whitlock" when Whitlock ain't what's broke?? What's broke is the Marietta Parkway is only halfway done!!!

With only half a Marietta Parkway, Whitlock can never be "fixed." It's easy to understand why.

Given any way-overcrowded road, Whitlock, many people who might use it daily will opt for a different way instead that might be further on the google map but requires less driving time.

If you take that way-overcrowded road and give it more surface area (capacity), how does it affect traffic?

The effect is a drop in daily traffic on the other, google map alternate ways people had been using. What happens is they return to the far overcrowded road now that it has more carrying capacity.

Driver usage of the additional capacity increases traffic on feeder streets and side streets, making the local situtation worse, but in the case of Whitlock Avenue, the folks on Windy Hill and Barrett and Delk/280 and US41 sure would appreciate more cars funneling through downtown Marietta's neighborhoods (rather than using alt-routes Barret, Delk/280, Windy Hill, US41)

And surprise surprise, they want to add lanes right up to where the, uh, sidewalks will be. Even if they do put sidewalks from Kirkpatrick to Northcutt, they won't last a year before somebody says "Nobody is using these sidewalks, so let's make them into car lanes!"

What about building the western half of the Marietta Parkway? It was unable to be built as intended, and the west side neighborhoods have suffered for 30 year since the west loop was abandoned.

The Marietta Parkway was supposed to go AROUND Marietta, not straight through its downtown, cutting the west side off from the rest of downtown. They ran out of money after it was expensive digging under the CSX tracks, so they just connected North and South Marietta Pkwy directly along the west side of the tracks and called it done!

As motivation for Marietta finishing the Marietta Parkway, I am writing to President Obama and asking him to issue an Executive Order disallowing where Whitlock/Dallas Hwy/120 has been allowed to pass through Kennesaw Mountain National Park. The NPS can shut down and dig up Whitlock/Dallas Hwy/120 where it passes through federal property. That is the way to "fix Whitlock" (and it would also fix west Marietta's property values once the plague of cars ceases)
Chris W.
June 25, 2014
Nice thought but this, literally, does not go far enough. I live in the area and do not want a four lane either. However, the distance proposed is just too short. It would need to go all the way to John Ward and connect with the current two lane to be effective. All this proposal will do is allow the nitwits (you know who you are) to run it wide open for that short half-mile just to get ahead of everyone else and then causing a worse bottleneck at Burnt Hickory as they cut back in front of everyone they just passed. Please send this back to the drawing board for some serious tweaking.
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