Update: East Lake Road Makeover and Quiet Zone
As many of you know, a number of East Lake Road residents have been working with the county, state, Federal Rail Authority (FRA), and CSX to realize two projects – the road makeover and the Quiet Zone for the CSX crossing. Spring 2014 will be a busy time, and here’s what you need to know.
The Road Makeover (Repaving and Drainage)
With the objectives of improving safety, lowering speed, improving drainage, and improving neighborhood aesthetics, the state is moving forward with a repaving and drainage project. The contract has already been awarded, and we will begin to see work soon. A number of neighbors participated in various stages of planning. Ultimately, the state’s final plans include:
- Reducing the travel lanes from 4 lanes to 2 wide lanes from Ponce to Paden
- Adding a parking lane on the north side of the road (Epiphany side) from Ponce to Ridgecrest
- Adding left turn lanes at the Ridgecrest intersection
- Adding a right turn lane at Parkwood for Westbound traffic
- Adding sufficient drainage at the E Lake RR crossing
- Fixing and / or replacing broken manhole covers over existing drainage locations
- Adding / replacing granite curbs, except where tree roots prevent
- Hopefully adding raised pavement markers (“turtles”) in front of St. Elias to encourage cars to slow down when taking a right on East Lake from Ponce. (We say “hopefully” because it is not in the original plan, but state officials say they can accommodate our request.)
Although the initial idea was to replicate the makeover on West Ponce which includes two parking lanes and two bike lanes, East Lake Road’s width is narrower and varies at different points. Because travel lanes, parking lanes, and bike lanes must have minimum widths, the only appropriate solution was to agree on two wide travel lanes with one parking lane along the north side where feasible. For more details, please contact Mike Pascale at Michael.Pascale@outlook.com.
The Quiet Zone
Believe it or not, we’re very close to achieving the quiet zone! CSX is in the process of installing two gates at the East Lake crossing – a project they must complete by July. As many of you already know, the two-gate system is not enough to obtain a quiet zone from the FRA – we need additional safety measures in the form of:
(a) Two more gates so that cars cannot zigzag through OR
(b) Medians in the center of the road, which extend out from the tracks in both directions. This creates a channel and, in combination with two gates, prevents cars from zigzagging through.
Each option presented challenges, and ultimately the county chose to install medians. Medians are significantly less expensive (to the tune of $150,000 less), they will help reduce speed, and they will help create a neighborhood feel similar to the Peachtree Hills area. Note: the county successfully negotiated a non-standard median length to ensure NO driveways will be blocked by the medians.
Timing of the Quiet Zone
The county will install the medians after the gates are installed in order to ensure that the length of the medians meet FRA requirements. Median installation may be affected by the repaving project, but the medians should be completed this spring and summer. After the gates and the medians are installed, the county will file for the crossing to become a quiet zone. This process may take several months due to application requirements and testing at the crossing. Once the FRA accepts and East Lake becomes a quiet zone, it may take some time for CSX engineers to follow the new rule (i.e., not blow the horn). We will work with officials to ensure the process moves forward and, once the quiet zone is granted, that the engineers abide by the quiet zone. Please note: the engineers may blow the horn at any time should they see danger. For more information on the quiet zone, please contact Aja Pascale at Aja.Pascale@outlook.com.
GDOT Drawings (PDF)