Folks who have been around these parts for a while can recall the daytime nightmare that Highway 92 was before its present condition. Locals called it Dixie DieWay. It had been a country road, an unpaved thoroughfare with some stretches following the old route to Alabama and parts west. (Now roads come to us from Alabama; nobody leaves here to go there.) It was paved in the early '60s, and after the opening of I-575 in 1980, it became a hazard, jammed with East-West traffic. An outer loop to relieve Atlanta's Perimeter Highway never materialized, and this road connected I-75 to points east.
The huge widening and multi-lane project was long, very long, months in the making. But we suffered through. The economic impact was immeasurable, but in addition to that, we could actually get on Highway 92 and go somewhere with no hassle. We quickly learned how to navigate in and through eight lanes of traffic, moving at phenomenal speeds compared with the previous stop-and-hope-to-go. Of course, the road brought more growth, which called for more of everything else- a topic for another day.
This latest project is another first for the city. At a recent meeting of merchants and Main Street advocates, one of the speakers struggled with what to call it. It's a word we aren't familiar with, and many of us go through Turn-around, Run-around, Get-about, even Turn-about, before arriving at Roundabout. (Others call it words I'm not allowed to use in public.)
In my wildest dreams I would never have imagined such an ingenious way to exit Haney Road into Main Street. In fact, since time immemorial Haney Road just went to the old Haney farm place and later to a couple of private driveways. But with the Toll Brothers development of Woodstock Knoll, there will be more traffic, pedestrian and vehicular. We used to call that Kudzu Korner, but the kudzu and the groundhogs who lived there are long gone.
The developer keeps the landscape looking like a picture from Southern Living Magazine, and the sidewalk from Haney Road to the Woodstock Library is very busy. The old 1989 library building will soon be occupied, and the entire area has taken on a new identity. It makes at least some of us on the north side of town want to spruce up a bit. We'll have from 60 to 120 days to do that while the new roundabout is under construction. In the meantime, north bound traffic from town must exit at Linton Street, and southbound traffic from the north will stop at the library. Detours are posted and published for those who aren't familiar with alternate routes. We'll manage, but I feel so cut off from the library I'm already having withdrawal symptoms.
The complaints are coming in at a rapid pace, not only about the inconvenience of the construction, but about the finished product. Lots of folks see no need for it, but they aren't considering the alternative - yet another traffic light. Imagine going the full mile-and-a-half through Woodstock without stopping a single time for a traffic light, every time! That's what we would have if we had roundabouts at every intersection. I'm thinking I'm going to be so impressed with this new-fangled idea that I'll begin lobbying for one at Dobbs Road and Arnold Mill Road where we often sit for much longer than a timed traffic light would allow.
By necessity, most road work in the city is done while school buses are parked for the summer. That explains the announcement of multiple road closings around the area, including others within the city. Some involve infra-structure, others, potholes. While it may make for some hot tempers and some cold shoulders, when all is said and done our traffic will run more smoothly, storm water will flow more freely, and the annoyance will be forgotten as something else takes its place in our pocketful of traffic woes.
When the roundabout opens, we're planning to take lawn chairs up the street and have front row seats to watch as folks try to figure out how to traverse the thing. We had lots of fun watching folks bounce over the speed humps on our street a few years ago. It's old hat now, just as the roundabout will be after a few weeks. Then we can watch the Streetscapes project and then the Big One, the Rope Mill ramp at the Interstate. Never a dull moment - except when we're sitting dead still in a traffic jam. Cheers!
Juanita Hughes is the retired manager of the Woodstock Public Library.