Residents got their first look Thursday at plans to expand an ever-congested corridor of Hardy McManus Road into three lanes with bicycle and pedestrian friendly lanes.
The Columbia County Engineering Services Division held an informal public information open house to present the concept.
The plan is to expand Hardy McManus from a two-lane to a new three-lane “multi-modal corridor,” with the addition of three roundabouts. The placement of the roundabouts, officials say, will be located at the major intersections of Hardy McManus: Halali Farm Road at Jamestown Avenue, Aylesbury Drive and Dolphin Way.
The road expansion would include 12-foot travel lanes and a 14-foot flush median, where some sections would be raised.
The new bicycle and pedestrian paths would consist of a 5-foot sidewalk on the north side and a 12-foot multi-use trail on the south side, according to a news release from the department. The multi-use path would also tie into the existing Euchee Creek Greenway Trail.
“In addition to the new roadway section and pedestrian/bicycle facilities, the project proposes to install roundabouts at Dolphin Way, Aylesbury Drive, and a dual roundabout at the Halali Farm Road and Jamestown Avenue intersections,” the release states. “The project includes curb and gutter, upgraded railroad crossing, and new storm water management and treatment facilities. The length of the project is 3.1 miles.”
Officials say the project would also improve the railroad crossing, which they estimate could close the road to all traffic for three to five days.
Michael Bradley, who has lived off of Hardy McManus for 15 years, took issue with a few of the proposed solutions. He expressed concerns about inserting three roundabouts on the small stretch of road, and believes it would only make drivers more comfortable with speeding.
“There have been so many wrecks down through here, people have lost their lives,” Bradley said. “I don’t think that’s going to change. I think it’s going to increase. There is no way to slow traffic down, they’re actually speeding up traffic on a road that should be reduced, not increased.”
Bradley also was concerned designers overlooked safety by proposing narrow 12-foot travel lanes to ensure ample space for the multi-use sidewalks, which would encourage more foot and bicycle traffic on an extremely busy thoroughfare.
“They take their life in their hands every time they bike down this road, because this is a very extremely dangerous road, no matter what time of day it is, even the off-peak hours of the days, it’s extremely scary,” Bradley said of bicyclists on Hardy McManus. “I wouldn’t want my children riding their bikes on that road.”
Bradley also cautioned that the raised medians discourage left hand turns, and instead force drivers to make a right hand turn in the opposite direction and make a 360 through the roundabout to get where they are going.
Bradley said he believed a traffic light instead would allow for the left hand turns and slow down speeders.
“Maybe it will speed traffic up a little bit,” he said of the roundabouts, “But I don’t know speeding up traffic is where we want to be. I’d rather have a light there and stop traffic, slow traffic.”