A traffic light is planned at Ramsey Road and Ga. 365, about one mile north of the Howard Road area, which has been under public safety scrutiny for a while by engineers, planners and politicians.
The project, an effort involving Hall County and the Georgia Department of Transportation, doesn’t have a schedule yet, but “it’s going to happen,” DOT District Engineer Bayne Smith said, adding that they’re working out final details with the county.
“We’re working with the county on final details,” he said.
Jody Woodall, civil engineer with Hall County, said, they are working on permitting and design.
“Once that’s done, I’m sure we’ll work at getting it put in,” he said.
As part of the project, the DOT also is looking at building an acceleration lane for Ramsey traffic heading south on Ga. 365.
The intersection has been the target of concerns by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce and Kubota Manufacturing of America Co., which sits off Ramsey and White Sulphur roads. Last year, they asked the DOT to study the busy crossing.
Phil Sutton, chief administrative officer at Kubota, said at the time that the intersection has been fraught with wrecks, “most of (which) have been northbound traffic turning (in front of) Ga. 365 southbound traffic ... and there’s the crest of a hill there.”
Kubota, which builds tractors and heavy equipment, has almost 1,000 employees, and “we get about 80 tractor-trailer loads a day,” he said.
County officials said they aren’t sure what impact, if any, the Ramsey improvements will have on Howard, where wrecks have been a longtime concern, including one on July 12 that killed three people and injured six.
“It won’t help through-traffic on Ga. 365,” said traffic engineer Scott Puckett. “It’ll just be one more stop they’ll have to make. But as far as traffic entering from side streets, it will give them a gap (to turn onto Ga. 365).”
Woodall added: “It will probably slow the mainline traffic a little bit.”
Howard Road has garnered most of the attention in the area.
An April 28, 2012, crash that killed a Clayton woman triggered a public campaign last year, including a push from Gov. Nathan Deal’s office, to fix the crossing. That resulted in the installation of a traffic light and some other road improvements.
After the July 12 tragedy, area government officials, including Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan and Hall County Board of Commissioners Chairman Richard Mecum, state lawmakers, emergency responders, law enforcement and others met with the DOT at its Athens Highway offices to huddle again over the troubled intersection.
City officials gave the DOT a list of recommended improvements, including “rumble strips,” raised markings on the pavement that alert motorists to a potentially dangerous area; more lighting at the intersection; reducing the speed limit from 65 mph; and signals that allow motorists to turn left only on a green arrow, or “protected left.”
Gainesville Traffic Engineer Dee Taylor said at the time that the improvements would be “pretty easy to do.”
“We’re not talking about paving the world, right-of-way acquisition and calling the (Environmental Protection Agency),” he said.
On Monday, Smith said the DOT was still going through the recommendations and trying to decide which ones to implement and how they would be done.