For Columbia County motorists, the worst place to meet by accident is still Washington Road at Bobby Jones Expressway.
The intersection of Washington Road and Belair Road in Evans is listed as one of the intersections in Columbia County with a high number of vehicle collisions.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The Columbia County Sheriff's Office responded to roughly 4,000 vehicle crashes in 2004, an average of 333 a month, said Staff Sgt. Tim Perry, the supervisor of the Traffic Division.
Of those crashes, 56 occurred at the intersection of Washington Road at Old Evans Road and Bobby Jones Expressway. The number was down from 70 in 2003, Perry said.
Even with the intersection topping the county's "hit" list, "numbers can be deceiving; you have to look at the severity of the accidents," said Chris Bland, a county traffic engineer.
Perry agrees. Most of the crashes at the Bobby Jones/Washington Road intersection are not serious because the heavy traffic usually is moving slowly.
"Those are little ones. They are minor," Perry said, in spite of the average of 78,000 vehicles daily streaming through the intersection. "Rarely do we have accidents with injuries there. It is mostly where somebody bumped into the rear of somebody else."
Though the traffic counts aren't as high, Perry said Washington Road's more dangerous intersections are in the corridor from Owens to Halali Farm roads.
"(The intersection with) Halali Farm Road is horrible because it sits in a valley between two hills and, of course, the speed limit there is 55," Perry said. "When we have wrecks there, they are bad."
The number of crashes at that intersection have not increased much since the 10 wrecks reported in 2001 in the Augusta Regional Transportation Study Intersection Accident Analysis.
Bland said the right-angle, or T-bone, accidents that occur at Halali Farm Road, the speed involved and the higher volume of travelers as development increases have led the county's Traffic Engineering Department to ask the Georgia Department of Transportation to improve the intersection.
Bland said the proposed Washington Road improvements extend past Halali Farm Road and will include a left-turn lane, widening of the intersection and a traffic signal. He said the project is in the design phase and should be a reality in two or three years.
Bland said county planners are trying to prepare for the constant development along Hardy-McManus Road, which feeds Halali Farm Road.
"It can be pretty sudden, the growth, and we are just trying to stay ahead of it," Bland said. "It happens so quickly."
Bland said this department is keeping an eye on several other intersections, including Ronald Reagan Drive at North Belair Road, which is currently being improved with turn lanes. Louisville Road at Columbia Road is seeing more volume, too.
A little action can make a big difference.
"Lewiston at Columbia used to be bad until they put the light in," Perry said. "Rarely do we have an accident there now."
Intersections along the Washington Road corridor have produced the highest number of accidents for several years, mainly because of the volume of traffic. The Georgia DOT estimates that more than 32,000 vehicles travel Washington Road in Columbia County each day.
Right behind the Bobby Jones Expressway intersection, Columbia Road at Washington Road had 49 crashes in 2004, a rise from 38 in 2003. According to county records, 45 crashes were reported at North Belair Road/Industrial Park Drive at Washington Road, compared with 24 in 2003. More than 57,000 vehicles travel the intersection each day, according to DOT records.
Paul DeCamp, the Augusta-Richmond County planning director, said all intersections in Grovetown and Martinez-Evans with more than 10 crashes were included in the Augusta Regional Transportation Study. Information for 2003 and 2004 has not yet been released, he said.
The study and county reports show that the number of accidents at the intersection of Washington Road and the west end of Old Evans has grown from 14 in 1997 to 36 in 2004.
DeCamp said those numbers swelled because of constant growth in area population and traffic volume.
"The growth is so fast and there is no way to get those safety improvements in fast enough," DeCamp said.
Columbia County intersections with the highest number of auto crashes in 2004:
Washington Road at Bobby Jones Expressway/Old Evans Road
2004 - 56
2003 - 70
2002 - 53
2001 - 52
2000 - 28
1999 - 41
1998 - 55
1997 - 39
Washington Road at Columbia Road/Ruth Street
2004 - 49
2003 - 38
2002 - 40
2001 - 36
2000 - 40
1999 - 27
Columbia Road at Belair Road
2004 - 47
2003 - 32
2002 - 37
2001 - 20
2000 - 29
1999 - 24
1998 - 17
1997 - 21
Washington Road at North Belair Road/Industrial Park Drive
2004 - 45
2003 - 24
2002 - 32
2001 - 26
2000 - (No data)
1999 - 24
1998 - 20
1997 - (No data)
Washington Road at Old Evans Road (west)
2004 - 6
2003 - 34
2002 - 32
2001 - 25
2000 - 14
1999 - 22
1998 - 19
1997 - 14
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