Harried Christmas shoppers caught in the traffic mess at Poplar Creek Shopping Center didn't seem to realize they could have taken the newly-completed Leonardwood Extension instead.
"Nobody knows we have it," said Bob Tillett, assistant engineer for the public works department. "We want to make sure people know about it. Those poor people who got stuck trying to get out of Wal-Mart around Christmas could have taken the extension."
Jeff Hackbart, director of Public Works, said he was out near Wal-Mart on Leonardwood Drive last week and noticed that no one seemed to know the new road was open.
"It opened last Wednesday," Hackbart said. "We were out there last week and there weren't a lot of cars on the road even though traffic was backed up at Poplar Creek."
The road had previously ended at a stub at Ashwood Place and the majority of shoppers last week apparently assumed that it was still under construction and not available to through traffic.
Hackbart said the new road doesn't have all the finishing touches but is to a point where it can be opened for traffic. The sidewalks, trees and finish grading will be done later, he said, because it is too wet to do that work now. The contractor, Ted Randall Construction, is expected to work on those things as weather permits.
The project is a joint venture between the city and Ashwood Place, Hackbart said, adding "Ashwood Place is the property owner."
The city's share of the project cost $280,000, Hackbart said. That price also included widening Kings Daughters Drive near where the Franklin County Public School District has plans to build a new elementary school at the corner of Doctors Drive and Kings Daughters.
"We'd like to give the school credit for participating in the traffic study because they wanted to be a good neighbor and not cause a traffic problem in that area," Hackbart said.
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