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South Hall crossing gets second look for traffic light
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Because of a South Hall County neighborhood’s concerns about safety, the Georgia Department of Transportation is conducting a second traffic light study at an intersection on a newly opened stretch of Ga. 347.

The DOT took traffic counts at Reunion Way two weeks ago and is now “gathering additional data, specifically crash data, then will complete the analysis,” district spokeswoman Teri Pope said.

A previous review showed the intersection “didn’t meet any of the minimum requirements for a traffic signal,” she said.

Residents at Reunion Country Club are eager for better results the second time around.

“We do not want to wait for a death to prompt a traffic light,” said resident Brian F. Luders.

He said a driver making a left-hand turn from Reunion Way to Ga. 347 means crossing multiple lanes of traffic in a time period “way beyond the normal allowance a driver gives for oncoming traffic.”

“Oncoming traffic is also ... below the elevation of the driver turning, which makes for an inherent complication in perception and time allowance,” Luders said.

Fueling the issue among residents was a Sept. 20 accident at the intersection.

At the time, Reunion was holding a fall festival and there were “lots of children and congestion very close by,” Luders said.

“It’s the largest event that we do,” said Angela Pavlichek, Reunion’s activities director. “It’s open to the public and geared toward kids.”

The DOT has worked with Reunion’s homeowners association since construction began, Pope said.

The stretch of Ga. 347 between Ga. 211/Old Winder Highway and Spout Springs Road opened in June as part of an overall 8-mile project with a completion date of Jan. 12, 2016.

When the entire road is finished, motorists will be able to travel on four- and six-lane stretches of Ga. 347 between Interstate 985 and Ga. 211.

“Because the HOA was so concerned, we committed to review the intersection again after the additional lanes opened to see the details of the intersection and if it meets any of the requirements,” Pope said.

Once the analysis is finished, “we will meet with HOA leadership to discuss the review with them,” she said.

The study should be complete in two to three weeks, Pope said.

The DOT determines whether there’s a need for a traffic light based on criteria in the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

“If approved, the signal is installed,” according to a DOT fact sheet, “Traffic Signal Review Process.”

“Depending on workload, the state will install the signal from one to six months after the initial request.”

Luders said he hopes demographics also will be considered in the study.

Like the nearby Village at Deaton Creek subdivision, “we have a fair number of retired people in and out all the time,” he said.

Pavlichek said Reunion is considering developing a 55-and-older neighborhood from Ga. 347 to Thompson Mill Road along Reunion Way.

“There’ll be older people with less reaction time ... crossing four lanes of traffic, much like I do every day,” she said. “It’s like playing (video game) Frogger.”

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