Published Saturday, November 24, 2012
Guest Column By Katlyn Robertson
The intersection of Highway 54, Bear Creek Road and Moore Road is very dangerous. Every time I am heading home and I have to cross over Highway 54 from Moore Road to Bear Creek Road, I feel like I am making a leap of faith. It is difficult to see in either direction down Highway 54 because Moore Road intersects Highway 54 on the inside part of a curve.
Also, Highway 54 is surrounded by trees with low branches, and tall grass has grown in the ditch. Between the branches and the tall grass, it makes it even more difficult to react to any traffic coming toward the intersection. I always pull up as far as I can to the stop sign at the end of Moore Road. After I position myself at the stop sign, I have to quickly turn my head back and forth to look down Highway 54 hoping to catch the slightest glimpse of any on-coming traffic before I decide to commit to crossing the intersection.
The problem that makes this intersection so dangerous is there is not enough sight distance in either direction down Highway 54 from Moore Road. A driver can only see about 550 feet to the right and 420 feet to the left from the end of Moore Road.
I did a little research on the Internet and found the minimum intersection sight distance around this area. The minimum intersection sight distance describes the minimum distance that should be seen in each direction down the intersecting road from the intersection. On average, I found the minimum sight distance at an intersection on a 55 mile per hour road to be around 600 to 700 feet. At this intersection on Highway 54, the sight distance is less than what it needs to be.
The sight distance needs to be increased to make this intersection safer, and there are several different options that could be done to accomplish this.
One option would be to completely reconstruct and move Highway 54 to eliminate the curve. This would be effective, but the cost to move and reconstruct the road would eliminate this solution from being an option as compared to other available cheaper solutions.
Another option would be to turn the intersection into a four-way stop. This also would be effective, but this would interrupt the flow of traffic on Highway 54.
An additional option would be to reduce the speed limit on Highway 54 around this intersection so that vehicles would not approach the intersection as quickly as they do traveling at 55 miles per hour. Although even if the speed limit is reduced, it would not ensure increased safety because not everyone will conform to the reduced speed zone.
The final option I perceived would be to cut back the trees and tall grass along the edge of the road.
Cutting back the trees and cutting down the tall grass is the best option because it would not make any extraordinary changes in the flow of traffic near the intersection.
This option would give adequate sight distance down Highway 54 from Moore Road as long as the trees and grass are cut back far enough to reach the minimum sight distance required for this intersection.
This also would not necessarily add any additional costs to the state because it already has the equipment to cut down the trees and grass, and it also already has enough people in its work force to take care of the job. It is the state’s responsibility to ensure safe driving conditions on state roads in Georgia.
The only problem that could be a costly encounter is if the state does not currently own enough right-of-way to cut back the trees and grass to an appropriate distance.
If the state does not own enough right-of-way, it would be necessary for the state to acquire enough right-of-way so that it can appropriately fix the intersection. After the correct sight distance standards have been made to this intersection, it would only require the state’s routine maintenance to keep the intersection in a safe condition.