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Sidewalks to nowhere?

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A $10.3 million project is improving safety on a busy south Georgia highway, but critics say part of the project is a waste of money.

Crews are widening and lengthening turn lanes and altering traffic signals on US 19 from the Liberty Expressway to the Mitchell County line.

But they're also putting in sidewalks and pedestrian signals in some areas where there's almost no foot traffic.

We learned the federal government requires those upgrades regardless of how often they'll be used.

People who work and live in this area tell me few people walk along this highway, after all, there are no sidewalks on the Highway and there's a lot of truck traffic, so they question why was it necessary to do all this work if it won't be used.

 Just take a look at the work that's been included in a $10.3 million Federal Highway Administration Safety Project to improve traffic intersections from the Dougherty-Mitchell County line north to the Liberty Expressway, new handicapped accessible medians, crosswalks, and pedestrian signals at Highway 19 and Holly Drive, an area with little if any pedestrian traffic.

 "You ever see anyone out here walking on the road? Not really, not hardly," Antwain Mathis.

"I've lived here 18 years and I've never seen anybody walk across that road, let along in a wheelchair, but it's handicapped accessible, it's really great," said Flash Foods Manager Kurt Baker.

It's not just Holly and Highway 19, pedestrian signals are also in at the plant entrance to Proctor and Gamble and the marks are there to complete the crosswalks.

"I think it's a big waste of money, that money could be spent on more important things," Julie Copeland.

Digging Deeper we questioned why the work was included and how much it cost? We're told by the Department of Transportation, because it is a federally funded project, the intersection must include the pedestrian signals and crosswalks to meet the new safety standards that are a part of the federal guidelines for the intersection upgrades.

They couldn't break out the costs, but even the workers admitted they haven't seen a pedestrian while they've been working.

 "No ma'am I haven't seen any, but we just do what we're told," said Reeves Construction Paving Manager Charles Spencer. 

A subcontractor installed the new median sidewalks along with non-slip ramps at Holly Drive, and take a look at this a sidewalk and crosswalk to nowhere with a sharp drops off into the woods.

"It kind of goes to nowhere, there's nothing leading up to it," said Baker.

"I don't know who did the planning on it but, whoever did the planning on it sure didn't plan very well," Copeland said.

Residents claim its a waste of their taxpayer dollars. State Transportation officials argue the work was done in the eventuality that the crosswalks and signals could be needed in the future.

Baker called it, "A field of dreams, build it and they will come."

Although those who know the area well, are not betting on an increase of walkers, when the work is complete and the pedestrian signals are turned on. 

Those we talked with say the pedestrian signals can be a help to motorcyclists who can use the Pedestrian traffic control buttons to help them change the signal, other than that they don't see much use for the improvements.

The pedestrian upgrades were only done at the intersections of Holly Drive and the entrance to P&G because those are the only two intersections where there are traffic lights.

Twenty-percent of the project is funded by the state and 80% is paid for with federal money.

 

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