Originally created 05/18/98

Dangerous intersections on rise



The number of dangerous intersections in Augusta has risen, up from 46 in 1996 to 65 in 1997.

Bobby Jones at Scott Nixon Memorial Boulevard and Gordon Highway at Deans Bridge Road have always been on the list of intersections with the most accidents. But two downtown intersections -- where the speed limit is 25 mph -- weren't.

Fifteenth and Broad streets as well as 15th and Greene streets topped last year's list of most treacherous intersections, according to the 1997 Intersection Accident Analysis released by the Augusta-Richmond County Traffic Engineering Department.

"There are things we can do to reduce the number of accidents, but they'll cost money," traffic engineer Jim Huffstetler said last week. "But there are also some things we can do that won't cost money."

One of the things traffic engineers will do is clean the lenses on the stoplights at intersections around the city, Mr. Huffstetler said. Engineers may also replace bulbs in traffic lights he said.

"Visibility may be some of the problem, but inattentive drivers is the main problem," he said. "We'll try putting in some new bulbs. The brighter the lights are, the more apt it may be it'll help reduce the number of accidents.

The report is a preliminary listing of intersections with 20 or more accidents in 1997.

More bad news, according to the report is that the number of overall accidents increased by 607 -- 2,152 in 1997 vs. 1,545 in 1996. The good news is that the number of fatalities at dangerous intersections is down to zero, vs. four in 1996, the report states.

The most accidents, 98, occurred at Bobby Jones and Scott Nixon Memorial Boulevard. Deans Bridge Road and Gordon Highway came in second with 97 reported accidents.

There were 34 deaths in 1997, according to the Richmond County Sheriff's Department. Six roads had more than one death.

Peach Orchard Road and Georgia Highway 56 tied with five deaths. Deans Bridge Road had three deaths; Gordon Highway, Willis Foreman Road and Interstate 20 each had two deaths.

"There were several pedestrian fatalities involving people trying to cross busy highways during heavy traffic," Mr. Huffstetler said. "There's not much we can do there. People just need to be more careful."

The increase in accidents at intersections is credited to the fact that there are more intersections in the city, Public Works Director Jack Murphy said.

And the increase in accidents at Bobby Jones at Deans Bridge Road as well as Bobby Jones at Wheeler Road, which is new on the list, is due to commercial construction in the area, Mr. Murphy said.

"The new Wal-Mart is the culprit on Deans Bridge Road, and the new plaza on Wheeler Road has brought more traffic to those areas," he said.

The number of accidents on 15th Street concerns city officials.

"Especially at the spot with the flashing yellow light. People far enough from it may see it flashing and slow down, but those who are driving under it just as it starts flashing may not see it," Mr. Huffstetler said. "That can be really dangerous."

The problem can be fixed by moving the caution light far enough back so that no matter what point a driver is on that stretch of road, he can see the light.

Traffic engineers are also considering moving traffic lights closer to the stop bars to help avoid accidents at intersections such as the one on 15th Street.

Dangerous intersections

The 10 most accident-prone intersections in Augusta are:

-- Bobby Jones at Scott Nixon Memorial Boulevard, 98 accidents

-- Gordon Highway at Deans Bridge Road, 97 accidents

-- Bobby Jones eastbound ramp at Wrightsboro Road, 76 accidents

-- Bobby Jones ramps at Deans Bridge Road, 69 accidents

-- Bobby Jones at Interstate 20 ramps, 65 accidents

-- Washington Road at Boy Scout Road, 65 accidents

-- Washington Road at I-20 eastbound ramp, 61 accidents

-- Gordon Highway at Highland Avenue, 55 accidents

-- Gordon Highway at Olive Road, 52 accidents

-- Bobby Jones eastbound ramp at Peach Orchard Road, 46 accidents