published Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Lake Winnie eyes new route for visitors

An effort is under way to have Lake Winnepesaukah amusement park visitors steer clear of East Ridge and stick to Georgia roads once they leave Interstate 75.

The Catoosa County Board of Commissioners was expected at its meeting this morning to support Lake Winnepesaukah's request for the Georgia Department of Transportation to install state highway signs directing amusement park-bound drivers to the Cloud Springs Road exit from I-75. That would keep the drivers inside Catoosa County, "which would help our economy," County Manager Mike Helton said.

Lake Winnepesaukah officials "think it would be appropriate to help keep the traffic in Georgia," Helton said.

A park spokeswoman didn't return several calls left Tuesday and Wednesday.

Devon Brooks, area engineer for the state transportation department, said GDOT will try to help facilitate the amusement park's request.

"Certainly we'd work with them any way we can," he said. "We like Lake Winnie."

Lake Winnepesaukah's website now directs I-75 traffic one exit north to Ringgold Road just inside the Tennessee border.

"Forever, since that park's been in place, they have always advertised to have traffic exit off of the East Ridge exit and go down Ringgold Road, turn off McBrien Road and head straight into their park," Helton said.

One longtime Cloud Springs Road resident is OK with having Lake Winnepesaukah traffic routed by his home.

"It is the gateway to Catoosa County," said Vernon Cole, 59, who has lived his entire life on Cloud Springs across from what now is Costco but was a dairy farm when he was a boy.

"A little bit more traffic is not going to affect anything," Cole said. "It's a lot easier than going through East Ridge. I think it's safer."

"It's not as idyllic as when I grew up. Life goes on," he added.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township┬╣s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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