Dawson County residents trickled into the lunchroom at Riverview Elementary School last Tuesday to see and hear plans for a double roundabout planned at the intersection of Hwy. 9 South and Dawson Forest Road.
Representatives with the Georgia Department of Transportation stood at various stations, passing out information and comment cards to attendees and answering questions about the proposed traffic changes.
Julie Hughes Nix, Dawson County’s District 4 commissioner, was one of the first to arrive, and talked with a GDOT representative about the proximity of her home and property to the new roundabouts.
Nix lives on Dawson Forest Road East just before the intersection, but was told that the only thing that would impact her directly would be a few feet of paving at the end of her driveway.
In fact, no right of way will have to be acquired for the project, which is estimated to cost around $4 million.
The double roundabout is estimated to open in the summer or fall of 2021 after 18 to 24 months of construction. GDOT will award the contracts for the work in July of 2019, with a potential start date for construction later that summer.
The reason that two single-lane roundabouts are necessary at the crossroads is due to the existing structure of the two intersections.
According to the project plans, there are two intersections on Hwy. 9 prior to the main intersection, and both provide right-turn access to Dawson Forest Road via a connector street. There are also two intersections on Dawson Forest Road prior to the main intersection and both provide left turn access to Hwy. 9 via a connector street.
The proposed project would replace the existing unsignalized intersections with the roundabouts, which will be constructed independently of each other since the existing intersections are offset from each other.
One big roundabout, as one citizen suggested at the open house, wouldn’t be feasible.
Many of the citizens present at the open house were merely curious about how the traffic would flow around the intersection (something difficult to describe even when watching the GDOT-provided video diagrams) or how construction would affect their commute to work, and the question and answer session proved fruitful as many had their queries answered.
Some, however, remained resolute that the concept of two roundabouts is too much in a county still reeling from a certain Continuous Flow Intersection located at Ga. 400 and Hwy. 53, which was completed last May.
“I went to the original meeting for the
(CFI), what it ended up with isn’t what they originally showed,” said Sarah
Reed, county resident. “It’s common sense versus GDOT. People in the U.S.
aren’t used to traffic circles unless you’ve lived in D.C. It’s an accident
waiting to happen.”
Reed’s pessimism was shared by many, but according to Katie Strickland, District One communications officer with GDOT, once completed, the roundabouts will actually reduce conflict points and enhance safety.
“You’re not going to have the high-speed angle crashes, you’re not going to have the left turn crashes, you’re not going to have the head-on collisions. So those three will be eliminated from these roundabouts.”
Betw2009 and 2014, there were 40 crashes, 30 injuries and no fatalities at the intersection, according to Strickland.
“Converting this to the roundabout could result in reducing crashes by 45.6 percent, and that was part of the study that (GDOT) did,” she said.
Strickland also said that the traffic capacity of the intersection will last for 20 years.
GDOT is still in the engineering and designing phase of the project, and are welcoming any suggestions or comments from the public.
Comments will be accepted until May 30, 2018. To leave a comment online, go to www.dot.ga.gov/PS/PublicOutreach. From the menu, select “Dawson County” and click “Go.” Then select “State Route 9 at Dawson Forest Road Roundabouts.” Lastly, click “comment” and follow the instructions to leave your comments.
Comments can also be mailed to Eric Duff, Georgia Department of Transportation, 600 West Peachtree Street NW, 16th Floor, Atlanta, Ga. 30308.