The Gainesville District of the Georgia Department of Transportation is conducting a traffic count and making observations at the intersection of U.S. 441 and Hwy. 326 in Commerce.
“They’re looking at it now. They expect to be looking at it over the next week or two, doing some traffic counts, doing some observations and some evaluations to see if there are some steps we can take,” said Brent Cook, assistant district engineer.
Cook did not indicate whether the recent accident that killed a Nicholson woman precipitated the survey, but he did shed some light on how the DOT decides whether a signal device is warranted.
Local residents have clamored for a light at the intersection.
“There is a very detailed engineering process we go through,” Cook explained. “We have a policy that governs how you study it, based on national engineering standards in the “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.”
That manual is published by the Federal Highway Administration, and all states and local governments must follow it, Cook said.
That document provides nine “warrants” or criteria for consideration of whether a signal is required, but Cook said a situation need not meet all of those causes.
The most important are traffic volume and accident history. According to Cook, the 441/326 intersection did not meet the traffic count criteria several years ago.
In addition, the intersection must have five or more “correctable crashes” in a 12-month period to receive a signal light.
“The crash warrant does not differentiate between fatal and non-fatal wrecks,” Cook pointed out. “It’s the ‘correctable’ crash that kicks in.”
A correctable crash is deemed to be an accident that would likely have been prevented by a signal device. A crash resulting from a driver turning left in front of an oncoming vehicle would not qualify, for example, but the April 10 wreck in which Wanda Weldon, 62, was killed is “correctable” in that it could have been prevented with a signal light.
The DOT will also get a traffic engineering report, which covers traffic volume and crash history.
“You can make a call on an intersection pretty quickly once you have that information, Cook said.
The protocol also requires the DOT to try other options short of a traffic signal and to give people time to adjust to them and local law enforcement the opportunity to enforce them. The red/amber beacon at the 441/326 intersection is among the tools deployed.
“Whether or not it’s had an impact, I don’t know,” Cook said. “It’s been there quite awhile.”
For the full story, see the April 30 edition of The Commerce News.