By MONICA E. MURILLO
KENNESAW – The lanes of Barrett Parkway in Kennesaw have become very jam-packed in the morning for people traveling to work, and especially for students commuting to and from Kennesaw State University.
The project under construction is the Barrett Parkway Thoroughfare Improvements between U.S. Highway 41 and Dallas Highway. The project’s purpose is to widen about three and half miles on Barrett Parkway from a four-lane divided roadway to a six-lane divided roadway.
This project is not scheduled for completion until summer 2013. Therefore it is interrupting the commuting that thousands of KSU students do every morning. While the extra lane is being constructed on each side, there is only one available lane to go through. This is causing traffic delays of more than 20 minutes and can cause students to be late to class.
Extra Hours in Traffic
Kennesaw State University is not your typical traditional college where most students live on campus; in fact more than 90 percent of KSU students are commuters and drive to campus every day.
Nursing student Marissa Hernandez commutes Monday through Thursday to campus for about 45 minutes. Before the construction on Barrett Parkway, she would leave her home in Mableton, Ga., about one hour before her earliest class.
Now with all the construction on the main road she takes to get to school, she needs to leave her home about an hour and a half before class to make it on time. Hernandez has almost doubled her commute time due to the ongoing construction.
“I normally leave my house an hour early so I can have enough time to drive to campus, park my car, walk to my class and get situated before class starts,” Hernandez said. “Now this is impossible to do, living far from campus and now dealing with traveling on Barrett Parkway with just one open lane!”
The construction of new roads certainly isn’t helping congestion; instead it’s adding congestion and traffic.
“I can’t even go around anyone, because it is just one lane,” Hernandez said. “The other part that sucks is that the speed limit is also decreased drastically since it is a working zone. So basically we are all traveling at 10 miles an hour for about 20 minutes.”
It is an inconvenience for students to have to add 30 minutes to and from school to make up for the delay. For Hernandez, commuting four days a week to and from KSU means she loses four extra hours of her time weekly just sitting in traffic.
Late for Work
Another student at KSU is senior Samantha Pinzon that has to travel from school to work and is also usually late to work, because what would ordinarily take her 20 minutes now takes her about 45 to travel.
“I hate going down Barrett Parkway! I will try to go down through the backstreets just to avoid going thru all that traffic. It ends up being the same time, but I hate waiting in traffic bumper to bumper,” Pinzon said.
Samantha stated that she would rather take a longer way in distance just to avoid sitting in traffic, though it still makes her late to work. Leaving earlier is not an option for Pinzon.
“I have class all morning until 12:15 p.m. and I need to be at work by 1 p.m., Pinzon said. “By the time I leave class and head to work, my time is timed to the minute.”
This construction has been going on for several months now, and is not projected to end until the summer of 2013. Cobb County should be a little more considerate of the time and days it works on the expansion of Barrett Parkway.
Those three and a half miles of construction matter a lot when you are in a hurry to class or to work. With the work zone so close to a school, the county should consider construction times that would not affect the student body of KSU, like working on the roads during non-peak hours and on weekends.
Many students have been complaining about this traffic situation that is taking too long to complete.
Like other commuter students, Hernandez and Pinzon should not have to deal with this hassle for an entire year. Barrett Parkway is a major road that connects Marietta to Kennesaw; it is a road that is highly used to get to the KSU campus.
Students understand that expanding Barrett Parkway should be a priority in the county. Taking nearly a whole academic school year to make those changes is a little too long.
The construction on Barrett Parkway is affecting not only commuters to KSU, but also thousands of people who commute to work or have other obligations in the area.
Students are wasting hours a month just sitting in traffic and hoping that they can reach the green traffic light before they have to sit bumper to bumper anticipating all lanes to open again.