Mike Padgett Highway remains Augusta's most dangerous road

Risks of the road

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Mike Padgett Highway continues to live up to its reputation as Augusta’s deadliest road.

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A memorial stands along Mike Padgett Highway for victims of a 2011 accident at Southern Glassine Road. Four of the 16 deadly traffic accidents this year have occurred on Mike Padgett.   ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMES/STAFF
A memorial stands along Mike Padgett Highway for victims of a 2011 accident at Southern Glassine Road. Four of the 16 deadly traffic accidents this year have occurred on Mike Padgett.

Four of the 16 people killed in traffic accidents this year died on the road. At least two deaths have occurred on the 15-mile stretch each year since 1995.

Each of this year’s four fatal collisions happened after someone pulled in front of an oncoming vehicle. The latest two fatalities occurred this month within a week of each other.

On May 22, Barbara Ann God­bee, 54, died after the vehicle she was in pulled off Old Savan­nah Road in front of an oncoming truck. The driver of the car, 23-year-old Kiara Brown, has been charged with misdemeanor homicide by vehicle and failure to yield.

Four days earlier, Bonita Wallace, a 57-year-old teacher at the Augusta Youth Development Campus, died after she turned out of a private drive near the campus into the path of an oncoming truck near Marvin Griffin Road. Police said Wallace was at fault.

Traffic engineers and deputies offer numerous reasons for the number of fatalities on Mike Padgett: speed, heavy use by tractor-trailers, lack of turning lanes, too many private driveways, too few traffic lights and
heavy commuter traffic to factories.

“It’s contributing factor after contributing factor,” Richmond County sheriff’s Capt. Scott Gay said. “It’s not just speed or tractor-trailers. It’s everything.”

He said other major thoroughfares in the county don’t compare.

Though Peach Orchard Road is just as heavily traveled, it does not have as many accidents. Peach Orchard Road does not have as many private driveways and has more traffic lights, slowing traffic down and giving drivers an opportunity to safely enter from side streets.

Gordon Highway is listed as another problematic highway for deputies, but even it pales in comparison with Mike Padgett. The number of deaths on Mike Padgett has nearly doubled those on Gordon Highway in the past five years.

Two deaths have occured on Gor­don Highway this year, both the result of one crash.

Traffic engineer Dennis Ellis said he expects the problem on Mike Padgett to increase as more people flock toward Plant Vogtle to work on its expansion.

“It was really bad when they were building Plant Vogtle,” he said.

Deputies frequently conduct speed-enforcment operations on the road, but the effects are short-lived.

“It works, but it’s something you would have to do all the time,” Gay said. “We just can’t sustain that police presence.”

Deputies find most speeders are running between 65 and 85 mph.

The highway has caught the attention of the Georgia Department of Transportation, which announced plans last year to improve safety on the road.

The plan includes adding a raised concrete median in lieu of a center turn lane from Bennock Mill Road to Old Waynesboro Road.

“That is where a lot of the accidents are occurring. There’s just no refuge,” Richmond County Traffic Engineer Steve Cassell said of the area, which lacks turn lanes on and off of the highway.

Engineers believe the project will reduce side-impact crashes and collisions in that area.

Ronnie Faircloth, a pastor at New Life Baptist Church in the 3800 block of Mike Padgett Highway, said he frequently
passes the church drive to avoid being rear-ended. The area does not have a center turn lane.

“We’ve seen a lot of accidents,” he said. “A lot of people have lost their lives in our driveway.”

Faircloth said churchgoers are frequently victims or witnesses of traffic crashes. Wednesday night services are especially bad when cars enter and exit the church parking lot in clusters and mingle with the heavy traffic of factory employees making their way home.

“Every time I hear a siren, I just pray,” he said.

Faircloth and church members say they hope the DOT construction project will make their drive safer.

Construction, at a cost of $25 million, is expected to begin in 2013 and last 30 months.

Gay said engineers have expressed a desire to expedite the start date because of the number of accidents.

RICHMOND COUNTY’S MOST DANGEROUS ROADS

Mike Padgett Highway is the deadliest road in Richmond County, followed by Gordon Highway.

-201220112010200920082007TOTAL
Mike Padgett Highway46247225
Gordon Highway23142315
Deans Bridge Road21122311
Washington Road1022027
Windsor Spring Road0112307
Peach Orchard Road2111005
Wrightsboro Road1000102


Mike Padgett Highway deaths, 1995-2006

1995 2

1996 4

1997 4

1998 2

1999 2

2000 2

2001 2

2002 4

2003 6

2004 5

2005 2

2006 3

Total 38

FATAL ACCIDENTS IN 2012

Four fatalities have been recorded on Mike Padgett Highway this year, all within six weeks.

• Glenn Richard Cliett, 32, of Aiken, died April 17 after a tractor-trailer turned left off Mike Padgett Highway onto Doug Barnard Parkway in front of his vehicle. The truck driver, Bernard Middleton, of Jacksonville, Fla., was charged with homicide by vehicle.

• Thomas P. O’Grady, 84, pulled onto Mike Padgett Highway off Clark Road in front of an oncoming driver April 12. O’Grady, who died a week later, was at fault, police said.

• Bonita Wallace, 57, of Grovetown, died May 18 after she pulled out of a private drive near Marvin Griffin Road onto Mike Padgett Highway in front of an oncoming vehicle. Wallace was at fault, authorities said.

• Barbara Ann Godbee, 54, of Augusta, died May 22 when the car in which she was a passenger pulled off Old Savannah Road onto Mike Padgett Highway in front of an oncoming truck. The driver of the car, 23-year-old Kiara Brown, was charged with homicide by vehicle and failure to yield.

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s-pop
11
Points
s-pop 06/02/12 - 06:45 pm
4
0
mike padgett hwy

A "center turn lane" would be much safer than a "raised concrete median". Use some of the T-SPLOSH $ to pay for it; if you want a favorable vote for it in the upcoming elections. I can think of no better place for the county to spend money than hwy 56.

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 06/03/12 - 02:58 am
2
0
s-pop i think t-splosh (hah,

s-pop i think t-splosh (hah, good one) money is slated for improvements to hwy 56.

truth_be_told
231
Points
truth_be_told 06/03/12 - 05:56 am
4
1
State Road--Not County

Nathan Deal sleeps while we continue to die. Act like our leader or get another job.

seenitB4
96999
Points
seenitB4 06/03/12 - 06:36 am
3
1
Dang!

Fix this dang road & save a few ......why is this taking soo long??

fatboyhog
2104
Points
fatboyhog 06/03/12 - 06:42 am
4
3
President Obama should step

President Obama should step in and do something. He likes to get involved in local matters. Maybe if someone he knew or someone that looked like his son (if he had a son) was involved in a crash on this road, he'd do something to fix it.

fugitivetracker
7
Points
fugitivetracker 06/03/12 - 06:55 am
4
0
foot deep trenches next to pavement

It was pouring down rain last week and I was headed towards 5-20 on Hwy 56 and a car quickly bolts out of Augusta Manor and gets in the suicide lane there to merge in my lane. I thought they were going to just come on over in my lane so I checked the next lane to my right and it was clear so I got over. I over did it and just off the pavement there is about a 1 foot deep trench and I went in it. I rode it out and got back on the road but it sent me over in to the lane next to the suicide in my direction. I was lucky and so was those all around me. This happened going about 45mph. There was a lot of traffic coming up west that moment and we were all lucky that my overcorrection did not cause a major accident. This calamity is just waiting to happen again unless the DOT or whoever is responsible for maintaining the shoulders does inspections and tends to the problems. I believe the speed should be reduced for the whole 15 miles from 50 mph down to 40 mph and when raining down to 35 mph and strictly enforced until improvements are made. Right in front of Proctor & Gamble the speed limit jumps to 50mph and why is that?

seenitB4
96999
Points
seenitB4 06/03/12 - 07:25 am
1
0
Thank you tracker

I see you haven't posted in 2 years so this is very important to you.....I agree MORE has to be done right now!!
To the sheriff & to the new one coming in..FIX THIS PROBLEM.....more patrol would help..

tanbaby
1306
Points
tanbaby 06/03/12 - 07:28 am
4
1
they could drop the speed
Unpublished

they could drop the speed limit down to 30 or up to 80 and it wouldn't make a difference. most of the "accidents" that occur on that highway are because of carelessness...pulling out in front of traffic, etc...and fugitivetracker, i am surprised that the car in question didn't pull out in front of you also. people use the suicide lane (so aptly named) as just another driving lane.....

nevertoolate
291
Points
nevertoolate 06/03/12 - 07:38 am
3
0
Mike Padgett IS Hwy 56...

I drove that road for years going back and forth to Vogtle. The biggest problems that impede traffic and create unneccessary risk are people who drive under the speed limit. If you're afraid to drive your car, then get it off the road. Also, the LEFT HAND turn lane (lovingly known as the suicide lane) is just that! The ONLY directional arrows are those that point to a left hand turn. It is NOT a merge lane, people! Fugitivetracker demonstrated with his experience why it is not a good idea to use it as a merge lane. If you can't safely make a left hand turn, why not make a right hand turn and then safely use the suicide lane to turn around? Also, a concrete median will not allow a left hand turn...I think it's a good idea.

itsanotherday1
48161
Points
itsanotherday1 06/03/12 - 07:50 am
2
1
Tanbaby, I'm glad you noted

Tanbaby, I'm glad you noted that in the 4 deaths this year speed was not a factor. Obviously, people running 85 (noted in the article)are a danger to all and should have their wallets lightened considerably after cooling their heels in the pokey for a few hours. However, that doesn't fix the central issue. I like the concrete median idea if they provide adequate turn lanes for people who want to go the other direction. Gordon Hwy on the stretch from 520 to Grovetown comes to mind.

keeanzia
44
Points
keeanzia 06/03/12 - 09:37 am
2
0
What has taken so long for

What has taken so long for them to take action!

Khan'tB4Real
948
Points
Khan'tB4Real 06/03/12 - 10:09 am
3
0
Changes possibly coming
Unpublished

I am just making an educated guess here and do not have any facts to back it up, but HOPEFULLY with the new Southside Substation being moved from Southgate Plaza to the old YDC building on Hwy 56 before the end of this year that maybe with the increased police presence and that fact that the deputies assigned to the south side coming to the substation from all areas that this may decrease the number of people flying up and down Hwy 56 like it it a Saturday night drag race on Perkins Road. Does this tell my age? haha

madgerman
236
Points
madgerman 06/03/12 - 10:18 am
0
0
Maybe the traffic engineers
Unpublished

Maybe the traffic engineers should take a trip to New Jersey and see what the real world does for left turns. They use a thing called a "jug turn" No center lanes and no left turns across 4 lane highways. BTW in case you haven't noticed, even when you have a 4 lane with a center lane, everyone around here drives in the left passing lane. I travel a lot on tobacco road and it is common to see trafic bottle necked in the passing lane and the right lane totally free for miles. I wonder if drivers here are just brain dead or don't they realize their left front is about 12 inches fron an oncoming left front at a combined speed of over a hundred miles per hour. I wish the police would do something with the left lane blockers. P.S. vote for the T-SPLOST so Atlanta can improve their highways. As you know, if you are a voter, 25 percent of collections are for local use and 75 percent is dedicated to Atlanta. So vote your wishes and live with reality.

allhans
24843
Points
allhans 06/03/12 - 10:19 am
2
2
It's hard to see how you can

It's hard to see how you can "fix" a road when the problems are caused mainly by drivers pulling out in front of someone else.

Khan'tB4Real
948
Points
Khan'tB4Real 06/03/12 - 10:21 am
1
0
Suicide lanes ...
Unpublished

Years ago when they started taking up all of the medians around the CSRA and putting in the stupid suicide lanes I thought "What jackass thought this would be a good idea?"

Every single day, on the road I travel to work, some NUT decides to drive in the suicide lane for 500 to 1000 or more feet to make a left turn at the red light, even though the white line that signifies it has become a turning lane is almost at the intersection. No doubt this prevents people who are coming in the opposite direction and trying to turn left into the businesses (like me) from getting into the suicide lane. Of course I am stubborn and I will pull my car into the lane and make them properly go around me.

csraguy
2386
Points
csraguy 06/03/12 - 10:35 am
2
1
Ridiculous

Maybe the move of the Southside Substation will help (and I hope it does because police presence does slow traffic) but that simply is not enough. It is absurd that we as a community, especially our commission, does little to nothing while innocent people die every single year on a known problem roadway. The article does not even address the numerous accidents with injury, costs in property damage, and time spent by law enforcement writing accident reports, etc.

Our commissions has cut over 40 something deputies and greatly reduced the budget for the Sheriff's Office. The have then furloughed the remaining officers equating to a reduction in force of another 16 for the year. The salaries the current deputies receive are so deplorable (most have taken actual pay cuts each year the past 4 years) due to furlough days and increased insurance costs that even the open positions within the agency for deputies often go unfilled making the department short at least another 20 or so on a routine basis. All of this while the commission debated buying locations to build baseball stadiums, takes outings, hires Fred a 2nd $100,000.00 a year assistant, gives 15% raises to various employees within county government, etc.

Enough already! Fund the Sheriff's Office appropriately. Request assistance from the Georgia State Patrol & GOHS. Push for funding from the DOT to add the traffic lights where needed and a center median and/or any other known needs to help solve this problem.

Allhans, you are partially correct. However, properly timed traffic lights combined with other control methods will allow for adequate "pull out" time and therefore will reduce the many chances taken at pulling out into traffic. Speed also is one of the many factors and this can also be partially controled through traffic lights.

Innocent victims deserve better.

csraguy
2386
Points
csraguy 06/03/12 - 11:19 am
0
0
KhantB4real

My "Change" was made prior to your post. Either way, I said maybe it would help but my point is that it’s not enough. If after a while, those using the roadways see more police cars but little to no increased traffic enforcement since those deputies are mainly going to/from the substation it will have little positive impact compared to the other suggestions listed or the other problem areas addressed by Captain Gay.

The current Sheriff is doing the best he can with the budget he is given and I therefore think the commissioners need to step up to the plate. I also believe that if citizens were the ones demanding more officers and support of the Sheriff's Office it would more than likely happen because the commission tends to listen to complaining citizens.

My posts are and will continue to be pro area (not any one county) pro law enforcement, pro community as they always have been no matter who is in any elected office from any of our surrounding counties and I will gladly discuss in person at any time.

Stercus accidit
120
Points
Stercus accidit 06/03/12 - 11:33 am
3
0
It isn't the road, it is the

It isn't the road, it is the drivers on the road.

Accidents happen daily (multiple times) on I-20 too, no one blames the interstate.

Drivers don't stop and look, they pull out in front of each other, they are busy doing other things. Yes, accidents are constant on Hwy 56, they are elsewhere too.

I'll be glad when they finally do widen it, put in more red lights, and turn lanes. But I bet you a paycheck you're still going to hear about constant accidents.. I drove that road for years, road is fine, the drivers are not.

nocnoc
49121
Points
nocnoc 09/02/12 - 08:36 am
1
0
Khan'tB4Real
948
Points
Khan'tB4Real 06/03/12 - 12:12 pm
2
0
Discussion ...
Unpublished

CSRAguy, in all SINCERITY, I will be glad to discuss this with you and any other topic you care to debate. I will see you on June 15th at the next Open Forum for the RCSO Sheriff's Candidates.

csraguy
2386
Points
csraguy 06/03/12 - 12:16 pm
1
0
Khan

In all sincerity, will gladly at anytime. I do care about people and could care less if they are from South Augusta, GA or North Augusta, SC - if they are dying on our roadways and not enough actions is being taken, take politics out of it and get the problem solved to the best of our ability. Now, off to the real world so have a great day.

seenitB4
96999
Points
seenitB4 06/03/12 - 12:23 pm
1
0
Thank you kantB4Real

Thank you for putting some verbs in your sentences & making MORE sense than most on here...

I hope yall get to meet in person...my money is on you B4real..:):)

I don't care how old/young you are either.

Fiat_Lux
16419
Points
Fiat_Lux 06/03/12 - 12:41 pm
0
0
The solution may be expensive, but...

it doesn't begin to compare with the human cost of all these lost lives.

The reason Peach Orchard is so much better even with as much traffic is that people don't drive as fast and there are left turn lanes. Restricting left turns to intersections with protected turn lanes would make all the difference in the world, especially if traffic entering from private drives were were forced to turn right and go to a protected left turn lane.

The state or county wouldn't be required to add a center suicide lane a la Washington Road, which is a truly awful design. Peach Orchard was one of the better DOT moves in our area, IMO. Gordon Highway and Deans Bridge Road are bad because of terrible intersections and unwary or foolhardy pedestrians.

seenitB4
96999
Points
seenitB4 06/03/12 - 01:12 pm
1
0
Negative outlook

allhans ..I'm sorry you have a negative outlook on what can be FIXED on that road.......if you had kin or love ones there I'm sure you would have a different opinion....
Many options can be tried......Something needs to be done asap....call it FIXED...the sooner the better.

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 06/03/12 - 01:39 pm
0
0
There are many factors

There are many factors involved that has resulted in Hwy 56 being such a dangerous road. Individuals pulling out in front of cars is a factor but most assume they have plenty of time to make the turn when in reality the other driver is speeding down the highway and a miscalculation in how fast the other car is coming is most often the problem. Concrete mediums could help but then those turning south to go down to a turning lane to turn back north (to make a U-turn) presents another problem. Reducing the speed limit and installation of red lights to keep traffic at a safer speed (IMO) would be the most help.

moonlighter6
15
Points
moonlighter6 06/03/12 - 03:06 pm
0
0
The Truth
Unpublished

The statistics tell the tale, or the truth as I see it. In our great country everyone argues their opinion but the statistics speak the truth. I teach the truth, not my opinion whenever possible. The Mike Padgett Highway should be immediately addressed !

allhans
24843
Points
allhans 06/03/12 - 04:22 pm
0
0
I worked in the area and used

I worked in the area and used that road for 26 years, and had near misses more times than I can count, drivers would cut you off and pretend they didn't see you. Many were the drivers that slump down in the seat and peer through the steering wheel. It was no fun, and now I avoid it if at all possbile.. Somehow drivers seem to think it's okay to ignore the speed limits.
---
I have the same problem with Deans Bridge Road (and there is a divider)..Whooo Boy..the south side..

itsanotherday1
48161
Points
itsanotherday1 06/03/12 - 04:50 pm
0
0
"Concrete mediums could help

"Concrete mediums could help but then those turning south to go down to a turning lane to turn back north (to make a U-turn) presents another problem."

Much better than suicide lanes, as the drivers are forced to enter traffic in one direction. Turning drivers would be facing traffic rather than trying to look both ways and cross over multiple lanes. I'm afraid more impediments to traffic flow (lights) would serve to frustrate drivers already driving fast to get where they are going.

HighSociety
1841
Points
HighSociety 06/03/12 - 09:16 pm
0
0
This has nothing to do with

This has nothing to do with speed or police being in the area. A concrete wall will not fix the problem. We need to think outside the box and come up with a solution.

Khan'tB4Real
948
Points
Khan'tB4Real 06/03/12 - 11:17 pm
0
0
Maybe we can community police
Unpublished

Maybe we can community police on Hwy 56. That should solve ALL of the problems! *insert sarcasm here*

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