Are all these highway improvements needed? -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Are all these highway improvements needed?

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A $10.3 million Federal Highway Administration project is improving safety on one of south Georgia's busiest highways. The work is underway now on U.S. Highway 19 from the Albany bypass to the Mitchell County line.

The project at the intersection is 98% complete. Motorists stopping at the two stores near this intersection tell me until recent repairs they had to sit at this intersection late at night through several cycles of the light and some got tickets after making illegal turns, because the light wouldn't change.

Construction crews from Reeves Construction are putting the final touches on the intersection of Holly Drive and Highway 19, work that included stretching the left turn lanes, making them more noticeable and less likely to cause a crash.

"Make it longer so they can make the turn more safely instead of being out there in traffic," said Charles Spencer, Reeves Construction Paving Foreman.

The 10.3 million dollar project includes left turn lane extensions at 13 intersections from Hancock Road near the Mitchell County line north to the Liberty Expressway.

"They've improved the highway a lot as far as entering getting on and off of it," said Tom Hall, of Putney.

Those who work and live in the area say the project has been a long time coming, the signal timing has forced motorists to sit through several cycles of the light.

"They finally got the lights working properly where its actually on a switch because you use to sit there and it would cycle through and you're sit there forever," said Kurt Baker, a Flash Foods Manager.

"There have been a couple of car accidents out, before they started on this out here and I'd say it helps out traffic a whole lot," said Antwain Mathis of Albany.

The project wasn't initiated by accidents at the intersection, but includes building new medians, re-timing the lights, installing new sensors, the extended turn lanes and new signals and cross walks.

"It looks better than what it did and I think it will make a good improvement," said Michael Burk, of Albany.

All in an effort to keep motorists safe and keep traffic moving on what can be a busy highway for truck traffic.

Critics say part of this project is a huge waste of money. Workers are installing sidewalks and crosswalks, even a sidewalk to nowhere, in an area with almost no pedestrian traffic.

The Georgia Department of Transportation tells us there are 3 more projects similar to the work along Highway 19 within a 100 miles of Tifton.

When we questioned how many crashes had occurred at the intersection of Holly Drive and Highway 19, the Department of Transportation reported:

Collisions near C.R. 540/Holly Drive and U.S. 19; 2009 – 5 accidents, 4 rear end collisions, and one at an angle collision

 In 2008 – 6 accidents; 2 rear end collisions, and 3 at an angle collisions    


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