Of Columbia County's major roadways, Washington Road remains the most common one for wrecks.
The Columbia County Sheriff's Office had responded to 1,790 accidents through the end of May, compared to 1,804 during the first five months of 2006, an average of about 350 per month, said Staff Sgt. Tim Perry, the supervisor of the sheriff's Traffic Division.
"Washington Road at Bobby Jones is still the worst area," Perry said of the number of reported accidents. That said, with traffic moving slow at the normally crowded intersection, wrecks are usually minor there.
"Those are still our predominant accidents, rear-enders," Perry said.
Perry said that with so much new development opening in 2006, the accident numbers jumped from 1,621 in 2005 to 1,804 in 2006. Much of that increase was on private property, including shopping center parking lots. Of the 1,790 accidents so far this year, 447 were on private property.
"We average right at 90 to 100 a month of private property accidents," Perry said. "We can't prevent those because there is nothing you can do to force people to pay attention."
Improvements to several county intersections that were often the site of accidents involving serious injuries have helped, Perry said. The number of wrecks at the Washington and Halali Farm roads intersection was not high, but when they did occur, collisions were often serious because of high speeds and limited site distance at the intersection.
The right turn lane at that intersection was shifted last year and the state Department of Transportation has plans to realign the intersection and add a traffic signal, said Ronnie Hutto, a county pre-construction engineer.
"Since they redid the right turn lane and moved it over, our accidents have dropped off dramatically," Perry said.
DOT officials have begun acquiring the right of way property for the larger realignment of the intersection and hope to have the project out to bid by February, said Cissy McNure, a DOT district communications officer.
A light was added at the Washington Road intersection with Gibbs Road, which Perry said has decreased wrecks to three so far this year.
Perry said the most accident-prone area of the county is not an intersection, but "It is the stretch between Flowing Wells Road and Town Center Drive, where the center turn lane finally starts. There are so many businesses being built up there and there is no turn lane."
Voters approved a $43 million bond in November that includes $1.6 million in improvements to the stretch. Earlier this year, county officials said construction on a half-mile center turn lane on Washington Road between Club Car and Flowing Wells Road is expected to begin sometime later this year.
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