New overpass creates mixed feelings - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

New overpass creates mixed feelings

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July 27, 2005

Cordele- Twenty-fourth Avenue business owners say more than two dozen trains cross the road every day, creating traffic headaches, but a new overpass is expected to ease backups in the future, still some mixed feelings about the project.

Roger Walters opened Walters Garage with his brother 29 years ago, but he says slow business has forced to him to sell it.

"The train itself ain't did it, but when they started talking about that overpass that did it," says Walters.

His garage is on the corner of 24th Avenue and 5th Street, his neighbor, is a major railroad crossing he says is traveled by at least 30 trains a day.

"They definitely need an overpass," Walters says.

That's exactly what Cordele will get. Department of Transportation officials officially closed 24th Avenue just east and west of 5th street. A $4.2 million overpass paid for by the state and federal government will be constructed in it's place.

Officials say it will prevent current traffic backups, and ease residents' concerns about emergency vehicles not being able to get to the hospital while waiting on trains to pass.

"When somebody gets on one side and there's an emergency vehicle trying to get to any kind of emergency facility on the other side, whether it be police, fire, or hospital, anything like that, it just impacts and impedes that type of operation," says Linnenkohl.

But Walters is afraid an overpass will only steer traffic right over his business.

"Until I can sell it, I'll operate around it, but like I said, I'm only part-time. I done got too old to work full time," he says.

"We don't want to impact the residents or businesses any more than we have to. We're not here to destroy the fabric of this community. Our projects are to meld into that fabric," says Linnenkohl.

But whether the overpass will solve traffic woes and not close businesses like the garage remains to be seen, still Walters remains optimistic.

"It will all work out in the long run. I'm going to die one day, go on to heaven, then I ain't got to worry about none of this," says Walters.

For now, only 24th Avenue and the portion of 5th Street that intersects with it has been closed, but DOT officials say they may temporarily close some other intersecting streets while the project is underway.

The DOT will provide alternative access routes to the businesses effected by the road closing during and after construction. The overpass project is scheduled to be compete in August of 2006.

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