Department of Transportation crews are making safety improvements on the rural intersection of Georgia Highways 88 and 296 near Stapleton, where four people died in a traffic accident in November.
The four were killed Nov. 4 when the driver of their vehicle ran a stop sign on Highway 296 and went into the path of an 18-wheeler. It was the seventh reported accident at that intersection in the past two years.
Kyle Collins, the district communications specialist with the DOT’s East Central Georgia office, said it began reviewing data on the intersection Nov. 7. The review indicated an increase in traffic incidents at the location.
“Our analysis of the State Route (SR) 296 intersections with SR 88 determined that most incidents occur when attempting to navigate the four-lane highway. Therefore, our main focus is the existing median,” Collins said. “Georgia DOT’s traffic operational enhancements include redefining the median as a two-stage crossing with striping, yield bars and to make sure the traveling public knows they can stop in this section after crossing two lanes on either side. We want them to safely cross into the median first and evaluate the next step in a well-defined opening before pulling forward.”
In addition to the work in the median, the crews have also enhanced existing signs on Highway 296 and are adding a “high-visibility sheeting” to the stop signs and “stop ahead” signs to draw more attention from motorists approaching the intersection. Thermoplastic rumble strips have also been added on either side of Highway 296 approaching the intersection.
“We are testing these out and may return to do more traditional rumble strips if needed,” Collins said.
These are the first significant improvements that have been made to the intersection since Highway 88 was converted to a four-lane divided highway.
The Nov. 4 crash killed Chiranjebee Khanal and Jiba-Manjari Khanal, both 61 and the parents of the driver; Pratima Subedi, 29, the driver’s girlfriend; and Reecha Pant, 30, the driver’s sister-in-law.
Since the accident, Jefferson County commissioners have discussed what they could do to make this and other Highway 88 intersections safer for drivers.
Jefferson County Administrator Adam Mestres said that the county plans to install larger, more reflective signs on Clarks Mill Road where it intersects with Highway 88, but that the DOT has asked the county not to place anything on the rights of way of state highways.