Morris made it clear during last night’s committee meeting he is not in favor of widening Whitlock Avenue.
Rather, he proposed a discussion at the public works committee, which is chaired by Councilman Grif Chalfant, to increase the number of westbound lanes on two streets — Whitlock Avenue and Polk Street — leading away from Marietta.
“What I was discussing was, from Kirkpatrick out, there’s several turn lanes, several medians. My thought is … we make two lanes coming out from Kirkpatrick out,” Morris said.
The lane on Whitlock Avenue, Morris proposed, would be from the intersection of Kirkpatrick Drive, near a Waffle House, to Burnt Hickory Road, next to Kroger, a distance of about half a mile.
Morris said he made the proposal for new lanes on Whitlock Avenue because he wanted to discuss more efficient ways of using the paved road that already exists, not widening it.
“You would not widen Whitlock at all from that area. You would just be changing the painting on some of the streets,” Morris said.
He said while most of Whitlock Avenue has three lanes, some portions also include right-hand turn lanes, where the asphalt could be redrawn to make a new westbound lane.
On Polk Street, Morris said the area where he is considering adding another lane is the less than a quarter-of-a-mile section between Mountain View Road and Burnt Hickory Road.
Mayor Steve Tumlin said the new lanes would be a quick fix to a traffic problem that would still exist farther down Whitlock Avenue.
“I’m not for it,” Tumlin said about the proposal.
Councilman Johnny Walker said he was against widening Whitlock Road after hearing comments from residents during the day Wednesday.
“I’ve spent my entire day on the phone with this issue,” Walker said. “As long as I’m councilman, I would never support the widening of Polk Street or the widening of Whitlock.”
Morris’ proposal coincides with other changes to the area along Whitlock Avenue. The street will soon receive new 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.
This streetscape project will cost $4 million, which comes from the $68 million redevelopment bond issuance passed last fall.
Chalfant said he didn’t think inner Marietta had a large enough traffic problem to continue with the plans to add new lanes to Whitlock Avenue.
The council did not order any action on the suggestion at Wednesday’s meeting.
The changes wouldn’t take place any time soon. The council would still have to consider and approve lane addition plans. Also, the Georgia Department of Transportation would have to approve the plans because it is a state highway, Chalfant said.