Just a couple of months ago, owners of local businesses told the Georgia Department of Transportation that they don't want a concrete median constructed on Washington Road.
We agreed with those Evans businesses, accusing the DOT of dividing the wrong road. We said they instead need to be put up a barrier on Interstate 20 to prevent "crossover" crashes that occur when out-of-control vehicles cross the median and run head-on into oncoming traffic.
DOT officials defended their record, pointing out that they're planning to install more than 29 miles of cable barriers - similar to those along I-20 in South Carolina - from Belair Road in Martinez, all the way to Star Route 80 in Warren County.
That's great news. Yet even if that barrier were already in place, it wouldn't have prevented the tragic deaths this past week of Tariq Fischer, Imran Khan and Mohammad Hassan.
Once in place, the first phase of the barrier would stop just a few miles short of where the car, which Fischer was driving during an afternoon thunderstorm, hydroplaned across the median and slammed into an oncoming truck.
All three young men were killed in the crash.
The barrier likely would have prevented the death of Lloyd Graybeal of Martinez, who was killed in April when his sport utility vehicle crossed the median in McDuffie County. And it possibly could have saved the life of Andrew Hawkinberry, the 8-year-old Harlem boy killed in a similar Warren County crash in September 2002.
It's good to know the DOT is finally planning to make the deadly stretch of road safer. Let's just hope they get it done faster than their contractors are widening Furys Ferry Road. Too many good people have died waiting.
Meet the DOT
Speaking of the DOT, the agency is planning to hold a transportation information meeting from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday. DOT officials will staff a booth inside Augusta Mall.
For those who have been wrongly cursing Columbia County officials for the DOT's slow-motion Furys Ferry Road project, seeing what else is on the DOT plate through 2008 may be instructive.
Nominate a mayor
The DOT wants to hear from you, and we do, too.
Pretty soon, in honor of Evans being recognized by Money magazine as 32nd on its list of one of the top 100 places to live in the U.S., The News-Times is going to hold a contest seeking nominations for a mayor of Evans.
Of course, Evans doesn't have a mayor; it isn't a city. But that didn't stop local radio personality Steve York from proclaiming himself mayor of Martinez back in 1980.
"It's just one stunt that I pulled that just never seems to go away," says York when reminded of his days of broadcasting from WKZK behind a "Mayor of Martinez" sign.
York, now with Beasley Broadcasting, is recovering from colon cancer. He says he'll beat it, and the folks from Shepeard Blood Center are talking about holding a blood drive in "hizzonor's" honor. If it happens, we'll certainly let everyone know about it.
In the meantime, we'll soon begin taking nominations for mayor of Evans. We'll sift through the nominees, whittle them down to some finalists and post them on our Web site for a final "runoff" vote. Among other things, we'll award the winner $32 for use as a municipal budget.
That may not be enough money to buy a plane ticket to Honolulu, but it's probably enough to buy a snazzy Hawaiian shirt.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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