By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Ga. 365 wreck brings safety concerns to forefront
Corridor not identified by GDOT as dangerous
Placeholder Image

Highway safety concerns on Ga. 365 surfaced again last week after a 24-year-old man was killed in a collision Wednesday on the Cornelia Highway portion of the road.

Steven Rondal Collins of Clermont was driving a 2007 Pontiac car southbound on Ga. 365 when it struck the rear of a tractor-trailer making a left turn on Ramsey Road.

That crash killed Collins, and sent the driver, Barry Turner, to the hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries.

Georgia State Patrol's Special Collision Reconstruction Team is still investigating the crash.

The stretch of highway is known for frequent serious crashes by the Hall County Sheriff's Office, which reports that it does a lot of speed monitoring in the area.

Responding to the news, readers of gainesvilletimes.com took to the comments section lamenting Collins' death, but also slamming their perceived dangers on the corridor and calling for improved traffic safety provisions.

"Such a horrible area," wrote Leah Harwood, responding to a gainesvilletimes.com post about the crash on Facebook. "My husband worked in the area for seven years and I was afraid for his life every day - too many serious and fatal accidents in that section of the highway."

Others like Richard Taylor, who works near the highway, called on the Georgia Department of Transportation to make changes on Ga. 365 to improve safety — like adding traffic lights to Ramsey Road and nearby Howard Road.

Despite those concerns, there are currently no plans for any major changes, although Georgia's Department of Transportation is considering small modifications in signs and striping.

The intersection of Wednesday's fatal crash is about two miles north of Interstate 985's last exit at Jesse Jewell Parkway.

About a mile south of the Ramsey Road intersection is a cross and flowers memorializing Casey Turpin. In 2009, Turpin died in a similar crash when, according to reports, he turned his Mazda pickup into the path of another truck when trying to cross onto Howard Road.

The speed limit along the corridor is 65 mph. There are several side roads without traffic lights that lead to industrial parks, residential areas and gas stations.

"It is known for a higher number of serious crashes including fatalities," said Sgt. Stephen Wilbanks, a spokesman for the Hall County Sheriff's Office.

Many of the crashes, he said, involve drivers either turning left onto one of the side roads off Ga. 365 or trying to cross over the highway from one of those roads.

Oftentimes, speed is a factor in these crashes.

"That's the reason our traffic enforcement is spending a considerable amount of time doing traffic radar enforcement," he said.

Georgia State Patrol could not pinpoint the exact number of crashes on this particular corridor, but spokesman Gordy Wright said there were 232 total crashes on I-985/GA 365 investigated by the agency in 2011. That number does not include those handled only by local law enforcement agencies.

Still, the corridor has not been identified by GDOT as a particularly dangerous area and there are no plans for new traffic lights.

With the addition of a RaceTrac gas station on the highway, GDOT District 1 spokeswoman Teri Pope said there was a study conducted regarding the Howard Road intersection. However, results showed it did not meet any of the thresholds for installing a light.

Pope explained that traffic lights, when they don't meet the thresholds, bring their own potential hazards and that too many traffic lights close together cause driver frustration.

Pope said most of the accidents that occur on Ga. 316, between Lawrenceville and Athens, are at traffic signals.

Changes in signage or road striping on parts of the road are aimed at drawing drivers' attention to slowing down for intersections.

 

Regional events