The city of Carrollton is widening a one-lane bridge on Roop Street that serves as a back entrance into the shopping center, while Georgia Department of Transportation is widening the U.S. 27 overpass, crossing the Georgia Highway 166 bypass just beyond the center. The combination is causing backups of traffic along U.S. 27, especially during early morning and around noon.
Some of the traffic problems could be alleviated in about a month, when the city’s bridge project is completed.
“We plan to have the bridge completed before the Thanksgiving holiday,” said Casey Coleman, city manager. “We’re moving along as fast as we can, but we did have some problems we didn’t anticipate.”
The state’s $6 million overpass project will be somewhat longer in completion. That work, designed to reduce congestion by adding more turning lanes onto the bypass, is not scheduled for completion until November of 2013.
“It’s so bad that people don’t like coming into the center,” said Doug Hines, owner of Quiznos sandwich shop. “My sales are down a good 10 to 15 percent. People are saying it takes them 15 minutes to get from Clinic Drive to the shopping center. The average person has only an hour for lunch, so they don’t have time for that.”
Hines said he wonders why the bridge work wasn’t done during the summer when there’s less college traffic, and he suggested having a police officer to direct traffic during the busiest times.
While other store owners in the center don’t feel it’s hurting business, they still see it as an aggravation to both customers and employees.
“A lot of people are complaining about congestion around lunchtime and not having the other entrance is really slowing people down,” said Matt Wardell, manager at Sears Optical.
“It’s horrible getting in and out here,” said Marty Strader, an employee at Springleaf Financial. “When they’re working on one lane, it’s slowing traffic down every way. It seems like it takes about 20 minutes to get out sometimes.”
Emily Rouse, Nail Optics manager, said she hasn’t heard any customer complaints, but her employees are having problems getting in during the morning rush, due to having only the one intersection open.
“I have heard people complaining about having to go a different way to get in, but it’s not hurting business,” said Cassie Whitton, manager at Great Clips.
Chris Cooper, manager at Hibbits Sporting Goods, said he hasn’t noticed a slowdown in business, but added “it’s a hassle” getting out of the center on weekends.
Kim Herndon, UPS Store manager, said she often hears customers talking about the traffic aggravation, but it doesn’t seem to be turning them away from the store.
The city of Carrollton announced in July that it would be closing the one-lane bridge on Roop Street to widen it to two lanes plus add a pedestrian walkway. The bridge has brought constant complaints since the shopping center opened about 15 years ago.
“This is something we’ve been planning to do for several years now,” Coleman said in July. “This is a very narrow bridge, and we have had several close calls over the years. This is mainly about citizens’ safety.”
In addition to being wider, the new bridge will have a higher weight limit so that tractor-trailer trucks making deliveries can use it. The old one-lane bridge has a 5-ton limit.
Staff Writer Colton Campbell contributed to this story.