Dougherty Co. intersection causing concern - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Dougherty Co. intersection causing concern

South Georgia drivers are demanding something be done about a dangerous intersection in Dougherty County. (Source: WALB) South Georgia drivers are demanding something be done about a dangerous intersection in Dougherty County. (Source: WALB)
Wednesday night three people were rushed to the hospital when they crashed at the intersection of Nelms Road and Highway 19 in the county. (Source: WALB) Wednesday night three people were rushed to the hospital when they crashed at the intersection of Nelms Road and Highway 19 in the county. (Source: WALB)
DOUGHERTY CO., GA (WALB) -

South Georgia drivers are demanding something be done about a dangerous intersection in Dougherty County. 

Wednesday night three people were rushed to the hospital when they crashed at the intersection of Nelms Road and Highway 19 in the county. 

MORE: Drivers identified in wreck involving Dougherty Co. Police cruiser on Highway 19

It's an area Dougherty County Police patrol often. 

"Normally when you hear a wreck at this intersection you kind of cringe because there have been some real bad in the past and you are hoping it's not going to be another one," said Todd Picklelsimer as he watched cars pass by the intersection. 

Pickelsimer said he has seen a number of different traffic violations at the crossing.

"Normally people fail to yield at the stop sign for other traffic and it causes a collision in the intersection," explained Picklelsimer.

That's exactly what happened Wednesday night.

When a car didn't yield, Georgia State Patrol Officers said it hit a second car coming down 19. Then that car crashed into a Dougherty County Police officer's car, who has been in the middle lane. 

"It makes you want to patrol the area a little more and stuff like that," said Picklelsimer when he spoke about another crash at the intersection, this time involving his fellow colleague. 

Officer Pickelsimer said he dedicates time each shift watching the intersection.

People who drive the area often said they're afraid of it.

"I don't turn there anymore," said Steve Owens, who lives in Albany but has relatives in Putney. "I actually cross at the road that's right across from Mike's country store."

Owens says he wants a traffic light put in at the intersection. He said he knows many people in Putney do too.

Georgia D.O.T. officials said they have looked into putting a light at the intersection in the past. In a 2015 study, officials ruled the intersection didn't meet the criteria for a light, saying there wasn't an identifiable crash pattern due to the low number of crashes there. 

The last traffic engineering study GDOT did was in 2015 when county administrator Richard Crowdis requested it. 

In 2015, Georgia D.O.T said the two-way average daily traffic count was 12,640 vehicles a day on US 19/SR 3 and 1,570 per day on Nelms Road. The Department’s database showed 15 crashes at the intersection from May 2012 to March 2015, resulting in 10 injuries and zero fatalities. 

This is the rest of those findings:

The last traffic engineering study GDOT did was in 2015 at the request of Richard Crowdis, county administrator for Dougherty County at the time, to determine if a traffic signal was warranted. The study found it was not.

At that time the two-way average daily traffic count was 12,640 vehicles a day on US 19/SR 3 and 1,570 per day on Nelms Road. The Department’s data base showed 15 crashes at the intersection from May 2012 to March 2015, resulting in 10 injuries and zero fatalities.

The study concluded that the intersection had proper signs and road markings, intersection sight distance requirements were satisfactory, the intersection did not meet the criteria for a traffic signal and there did not seem to be an identifiable crash pattern due to the low number of crashes at the intersection.

Two recommendations were made to the county. Van Mason, GDOT district traffic engineer at the time, attended a county commission work meeting in March 2015 to talk about those recommendations and answer the questions of commissioners. Mason recommended closing the crossover median and installing a Restricted Crossing U-turn (an RCUT) past the existing intersection. The other option was to modify the crossover median to allow left turns only from US 19/SR 3 onto Nelms Road. (I have attached a PDF about RCUTs; last August we installed the first RCUT in this area of the state at Quincy Darbyshire Road and U.S. 319/Veterans Parkway in Moultrie and it seems to work very well).

The Dougherty County Commission was going to make the decision on proposed changes to the US 19/SR 3 at Nelms Road intersection after holding a public hearing (check your files, Tara Herrschaft did a story Feb. 23, 2015). That is the last information we have.

Here is the rest of our background for that intersection:

  • Traffic engineering studies 2008 & 2011. Road Safety Audit 2012
  • Past improvements: double indicated stop signs & stop ahead signs on Nelms Road & additional pavement markings for channelization in the median
  • 2008 traffic engineering study concluded intersection is functioning properly
  • June 2012 Road Safety Audit recommended increased radii of all four quadrants, installation of raised concrete islands for channelized right turns on all four quadrants & installation of splitter islands on both minor street approaches
  • A GDOT Quick Response Project added raised concrete islands & radii improvements. It was completed by December 2013, cost $79,722.35

The Department follows the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. The MUTCD requires certain criteria be met for consideration of installation of a traffic signal. Even if a location meets MUTCD warrants, it does not guarantee installation of a traffic signal. You can find the MUTCD online, but here is the link to the chapter on traffic signal: https://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/htm/2009/part4/part4c.htm

But Owens said he heard Wednesday night's crash and has witnessed several others. He hopes something will be done before he has to witness a life taken. 

"You need to be proactive and not just passive on something that is a constant problem in that area," said Owens.

All three drivers were treated for their injuries at Phoebe.

The officer has since been released and the other two drivers are expected to be okay.

Copyright 2018 WALB. All rights reserved.

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