Howard Road is getting more attention these days, but there is another Ga. 365 intersection that has roused public interest.
The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce and Kubota Manufacturing of America Co. at 2715 Ramsey Road have asked the Georgia Department of Transportation to study the Ramsey Road intersection, which sits just north of Howard Road.
“We should have the results of that evaluation available in the near future,” DOT District Engineer Bayne E. Smith said in a May 2 letter to Tom Oliver, chairman of the Hall County Board of Commissioners.
“Over the past few years, we have had several accidents, including some fatalities, at that intersection,” said Phil Sutton, chief administrative officer at Kubota.
“Most of those have been northbound traffic turning (in front of) Ga. 365 southbound traffic ... and there’s the crest of a hill there.”
Most recently, a 24-year-old Clermont man died in a March wreck when the car he was driving struck the rear of a tractor-trailer making a left turn on Ramsey Road.
Kubota, which builds tractors and heavy equipment, has almost 1,000 employees, and “we get about 80 tractor-trailer loads a day,” Sutton said.
Sutton sent a note to chamber officials asking if they could put together a meeting on concerns about the intersection.
“I collected some data with our truck traffic and our car traffic, and the accident data that I knew and pictures, and we met with the DOT and folks from the city and county, along with the chamber,” he said.
Smith “promised to do a study,” Sutton said.
Teri Pope, the DOT’s Hall County-based spokeswoman, said that “review has not begun on Ramsey yet.”
The DOT is at “the very beginning stages of data collection,” she said.
Heavy public focus has been on the Howard Road intersection, where a Clayton woman died in an April 24 crash.
That triggered letters from public officials, including Gov. Nathan Deal’s Chief of Staff Chris Riley and Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director Harris Blackwood, appealing to the DOT for improvements there.
Pope said on April 27 that the state would meet with local officials to move forward on fixes, including a traffic signal and flashing yellow beacon lights warning motorists about the upcoming intersection.
The DOT is working with government officials and RaceTrac, which sits at the crossing, on the project.
“It is a collaborative effort ... and will continue to be,” Pope said.
Sutton said he is also concerned about the intersection, noting that many Kubota employees go to the Georgia Mountains YMCA that’s also there.
However, “I was a little disappointed to hear that Howard Road was getting all the attention when we’ve been here 25 years and we contribute about $50 million to the local economy and a lot more traffic — a lot more dangerous traffic, in my opinion,” he said.
“And I’m afraid that just putting a (traffic) light there doesn’t really solve the problem,” Sutton said.
“It may even cause our problems to be worse.”
He added that he hopes the DOT will look at Howard and Ramsey roads as a “whole package because they are so close.”
That appears not to be happening.
Ramsey “is not part of the changes coming to Howard Road,” Pope said.
“These are two separate subjects.”
Jeff Gill covers transportation issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him: