Could raised median, roundabouts be coming to Highway 29 in Hartwell?

The Hartwell Mayor and Council held a work session on Wednesday to discuss the results of a Georgia Department of Transportation Safety Audit on Highway 29 between Richardson Street and Elizabeth Road (or, from downtown Hartwell to Home Depot).

GDOT file photo of a roundabout in Georgia.

The study outlines a number of suggested improvements to that particular portion of Highway 29.

The study revealed access management is an issue throughout the length of the corridor; speed limits need to be reevaluated due to increased development on the eastern end of the corridor; several wheelchair ramps are outdated and need to be put back into compliance with the ADA; and a lack of exclusive bicycle lanes on State Route 8.

Mayor Brandon Johnson discussed three of the main findings in a little more detail.

OK, so their top three concerns for this audit are: conduct a speed study along the corridor. They did a traffic count study. They did a traffic count, which told them, ‘Oh, by the way, Hartwell is busy.’ We’ve already told them that. Now they’re talking about wanting to do a speed study. Second, install a raised concrete median from Richardson Street to Elizabeth Road, so basically take the turn lane out of the whole deal. Convert the Campbell Drive and Randall Street/Walnut Street intersections to a roundabout,” said Johnson.

There was some discussion on the size of the roundabouts as well as rights-of-way. The general consensus was that it would be similar to the one installed in Danielsville. City Manager David Aldrich told council members this was something the state has started going to rather than traffic lights.

I think you’re exactly correct. The DOT has their own specs on that. We notice that they have put in a roundabout there in Madison County. There used to be a traffic light there going into Danielsville. It will probably be something typical of that size because that is a U.S. Highway so we’ll have to meet their criteria. The DOT has got to the point where they usually use local assistance for that,” said Aldrich.

The mayor then told council members they needed to think about which of the recommendations they wanted to pursue. Assistant City Manager John Herschell said the biggest issue would probably be the roundabouts.

I think, what the council really needs to think about, is do we want roundabouts at these intersections. I think that’s probably the caveat of this thing. Are we really prepared to go down this road?” asked Herschell.

The study actually lists 39 different actions that need to be considered for that section of road. Many of the items include signage and safety issues.

There was no time frame for a decision set by council, but the study suggests it would be longer than 24 months for items such as the roundabouts.