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Fort Oglethorpe Councilwoman Paula Stinnett points to businesses along Lafayette Road during an August open house session about the coming improvement project. The green lines on the map indicate raised medians, many of which have been removed from the plan. (Staff photo by Myron Madden)

Georgia state and Fort Oglethorpe planners once again have revised their proposed designs for the streetscape improvements planned for Lafayette Road.

The new adjustments for the one-mile project bring significant changes for the raised medians previously proposed, which the business community largely opposed.

Originally drawn as landscaped islands in the middle of the road to separate opposing lanes of traffic, the medians were meant to boost safety and efficiency by preventing drivers from making potentially accident-causing left turns in the middle of highly trafficked city blocks, said planners from the Georgia Department of Transportation, which is overseeing the project.

The new design removes most of the medians planned for the corridor, leaving only a short strip on the northern end of the project area between Gilbert Drive and Battlefield Parkway near the Sav A Ton gas station, and another strip on the southern end between Enscore Street and Harker Road near St. Gerard Catholic Church.

"The removal of three of the five proposed medians should help ingress and egress to the 27 businesses along Lafayette Road," said GDOT District Communications Officer Mohamed Arafa. "In the meantime, the installation of the northernmost and southernmost median should positively impact the safety of the corridor compared to the existing conditions."

The modifications come just weeks after business and property owners along Lafayette Road united in opposition against the raised medians shown in the previous proposal, fearing the medians would weaken their customer bases by preventing drivers from turning onto their properties.

With the revisions, Jack Goodlet, who owns Park Place Restaurant, said many of the business owners who'd voiced concerns are now content.

"We probably got 90 percent of what we were asking for," he said, speaking for the group of more than 15 business owners. "We're fairly satisfied with the concessions we got, especially since they [previously] told us it was etched in stone and could not be changed, period."

However, he added, the changes unfortunately will not make a difference for drivers hoping to turn into St. Gerard Catholic Church or Advanced Eye Care, both of which will see the remaining medians installed nearby.

The anticipated date for the overall project's completion is 2020.

Contact staff writer Myron Madden at mmadden@timesfreepress.com.

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