Originally created 09/12/98

County seeks funding for stoplight



Columbia County is asking the Georgia Department of Transportation to help pay for a traffic light and other improvements at the intersection that will serve as the main entrance to the Evans Town Center.

"My understanding is that we're looking for DOT funding participation," said County Engineer Jim Leiper. "We're waiting for a DOT contract to be finalized. What that does is establish an amount of participation for DOT funding."

The department approved a permit for a traffic signal and improvements at Washington Road and Washington West and Sir Galahad drives in July 1997, said Roger Price, district traffic engineer in Tenille, Ga.

The traffic signal and intersection improvements will cost about $300,000, including turn lanes from Washington Road onto Washington West and Sir Galahad drives.

The county plans to pay for the project using special purpose local-option sales tax funds, but officials are waiting to see how much money DOT is willing to pitch in, Mr. Leiper said.

"If we had a couple hundred million dollars laying around, we could just fund it, but unfortunately, we don't," he said.

Because it is the main access to the Evans Government Complex, Evans Post Office, banks, professional offices and restaurants, the intersection is becoming one of the busiest and most treacherous in the county.

Traffic is expected to increase with the development of the proposed Evans Town Center, which includes construction of a courthouse annex and a new library.

"That entrance from Washington Road to Washington West will be one of the primary ways into what is planned to be the most intensive development of the Evans Town Center, both coming in and getting out," said Kendal Jones, director of the county's Department of Planning and Development. "The only other alternative route would be from Washington Road up North Belair.

"Do you ever travel this way during rush hour traffic? It does get very congested and backed up. It's a common site for accidents in the morning and in the afternoon, so I think the traffic signal is going to be an extremely important device with the increase in traffic we have in this area."

There were 10 accidents at that intersection in 1997, according to county statistics. During a day, 2,075 vehicles travel on Washington West Drive, according to a county traffic study conducted in August.

Those vehicles turning onto Washington Road must then try to dodge the 15,904 vehicles which travel through that intersection during the same period, according to Marta V. Rosen, administrator of DOT's office of information services in Atlanta, citing the Coverage Traffic County Data Report for Columbia County in 1997.

"We've been requesting that light for quite some time, but the amount of traffic on Washington West Drive didn't meet the DOT requirements for warranting a traffic signal until recently," Mr. Leiper said. "The project is now in their hands, but I would say the light would be installed by November."