One Columbia County intersection might be getting some safety improvements before the state Department of Transportation gets to it as part of a larger widening project scheduled for Washington Road.
The intersection of Halali Farm and Washington roads needs some improvements for safety reasons, said Vonda Everett, Georgia DOT's district communications officer. The intersection has two major problems - Halali Farm Road does not meet Washington Road at a 90-degree angle, which is the safest angle, and the intersection sits in a valley between two hills on Washington Road.
"Therefore, the (large widening) project hopes to address these two issues by realigning Halali Farm Road at an angle that meets current guidelines, widening the section of Washington Road in the intersection to provide a left-turn lane for eastbound traffic and installing a signal," Everett said.
But Everett said that larger project has so far only gone through a concept phase and is now headed toward a planning stage with no definite time frame for when construction might begin.
DOT cannot place a traffic signal at the intersection in the interim without adding a left turn lane for traffic turning left onto Washington Road and realigning Halali Farm, Everett said.
Ronnie Hutto, Columbia County's preconstruction engineer, said some interim improvements to the intersection were presented to county commissioners at the March 13 Public Works Committee meeting. The work will include improving the right turn lane on Washington Road onto Halali Farm to increase the sight distance for traffic making left turns onto Washington Road.
The county commission approved the proposed plan at the public works committee meeting. The commission was expected to give the issue final approval at Tuesday night's commission meeting, with the issue listed on the board's consent agenda.
The intersection saw 14 wrecks in 2005. Of those wrecks, seven injuries were reported, said Chris Mezzetti, the crime analyst for the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.
Since the beginning of this year, three wrecks have occurred at the same intersection, he said, adding that no injuries were reported in two of the wrecks, but five injuries occurred in the third collision.
Halali Farm meets Washington Road in a valley between two hills, which often means collisions there are serious, said Sgt. Tim Perry, of the sheriff's Traffic Unit.
"Most of the accidents there, there's not a lot of them, but when we have one, it is a bad one," Perry said.
He added that the speed limit was lowered from 55 to 45 mph about a year ago.
"It usually involves AirMed or definitely transport to the hospital by ambulance."
Hutto said the utilities in the area have been located and property plats have been pulled.
"Hopefully, we will be able to let (bid) the work in the next 60-90 days," Hutto said.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
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