Regarding the Feb. 4 editorial, "Better traffic in a roundabout way?" I believe that your conclusion as to why some Hereford Farm Road residents were against a traffic circle might have missed the mark.
First, I should provide some background. I was among the residents in the Farmington subdivision who helped organize a couple of meetings for Hereford Farm road residents back in June and July to discuss the Hereford Farm Road widening project, and to encourage residents to attend the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax meetings to voice their preferences for the project.
The idea was to make sure that the county government understood the concerns of the residents with enough lead-time to take them into consideration. Representatives from the Columbia County Construction and Maintenance Services Division attended the neighborhood meetings as well.
Some of people at those initial meetings debated the viability of including sidewalks or a multi-purpose trail. Others, especially those with property fronting on Hereford Farm Road, objected to the widening in general. But I don't recall anyone objecting specifically to the traffic circle that we had proposed.
I was unable to attend the public meeting sponsored by the county on Dec. 2, but my wife attended it and she noted that, based on the people there with whom she spoke or whose conversations she overheard, the idea of the roundabout was not as universally rejected as the editorial implied. In fact, the only people that she heard objecting to the proposal were the residents who would lose access to Hereford Farm Road from Lavista Drive.
As the editorial stated, the biggest problem with roundabouts is that drivers aren't accustomed to them. But having been exposed to them while stationed overseas, I can assure you that the learning curve is really not that steep.
And even if they aren't addressed in the Georgia driver's handbook, there is no reason why local driving instructors can't teach new drivers about them rather than waiting for the state to recognize their existence.
As long as the land is available the county should go ahead with this and future roundabouts. The benefits go beyond just a reduction in crashes, because the crashes that do occur are less severe. And aside from the not inconsiderable benefit of walking away from a crash with lighter injuries - let alone living to drive another day - area residents could ultimately see a reduction in their auto insurance premiums.
The Hereford Farm Road widening project is a chance for Columbia Countians to learn the viability and benefits of traffic circles and to hopefully lead the way in developing safer roads throughout the area and the state.
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