Hinesville leaders already are planning for how traffic may be affected by growth on Memorial Drive and Central Avenue when Armstrong State University’s new Liberty Center and the new Liberty County Library are completed.
Mayor Jim Thomas and City Manager Billy Edwards doubt that traffic and parking will become serious issues, but the city may need to monitor traffic patterns on those streets feeding into Memorial Drive.
“I think the real issue is being able to get the students — since we have mostly commuter students — to campus and in and out of the library as efficiently as possible,” Thomas said. “I think that the parking that we already have there will be sufficient. If not, I think many of them will park on our downtown streets.”
Edwards said the city will monitor the traffic generated by the new Liberty Center even as the library is being built adjacent to it. He said he doesn’t anticipate seeing anything that might require changing traffic patterns, but he does expect to see significant traffic increases on Memorial Drive and Central Avenue. Smiling, he said he hopes to see “a lot” of traffic on those streets.
“When you’re talking about patterns, you’re talking about the direction of traffic flow,” Edwards said. “I don’t anticipate traffic patterns on Memorial Drive or Central Avenue changing. We may have to look at Welborn Street, Rebecca Street and others and see if we need to adjust those streets in some way or maybe make some changes to the roads themselves.”
Thomas said that once the new campus is open, they would examine the traffic flows on existing streets before deciding on any changes. Edwards said a factor they will consider is that the majority of students taking classes at the new campus will be what he calls non-traditional students, whom he defined as those who already are in careers and are taking classes to enhance those careers, or they’re seeking a new degree in order to change careers.
He said the traffic generated by these students probably will be greater at night, which would not affect the other traffic in the area that typically is higher during the day. He reiterated that he doesn’t see the increase in traffic from the new campus and library creating any serious problems for the city in the immediate future.
Thomas said he expects the new campus and library eventually will attract more restaurants along Memorial Drive because students are going to want places nearby to eat then return to class. Edwards added that the new campus and library should create more pedestrian traffic, not only along Central Avenue and Memorial Drive, but also along Main Street. He said the new campus and library fit well with the city’s overall master plan for downtown development.