The recent bus crash in Atlanta left me thinking about how our state Department of Transportation does the bare minimum for safety, and there are a couple of troubling spots on a popular route that it seems to have no intention of properly fixing. At the site of the bus crash on Interstate 75, the bus drove full speed past over minimal pavement markings and past stop warning signs on an exit ramp. Even though there were previous fatal collisions at that exit, it took the bus tragedy to prompt the DOT to consider more markings, bigger stop signs, and barrier signs marking the overpass wall.
In the Athens area, the DOT could simply do more to help accident prone spots on the Epps Bridge Parkway-Georgia Highway 316 route. First of all, the Athens-Banner Herald has covered problems at the Epps Bridge Parkway ramp where the highway begins at the exit from Atlanta Highway. Two motorists have died after their vehicles left the bridge after attempting the curve too fast. The DOT's solution was to paint a series of pavement markings spaced closer and closer to create the illusion of speed to trick drivers into slowing down. My guess is that this is a lot cheaper than installing delineator signs on the bridge, the yellow signs with black stripes or chevrons that warn drivers of curves. If you look at this bridge, you will see the markings where the vehicles struck the wall and left the bridge before any of these signs begin. After the bridge, these signs have been placed to mark the rest of the curve. Why can't the DOT simply install these signs on the bridge itself?
In Oconee County, Highway 316 has an interchange with the Perimeter Highway. The westbound side has an exit lane for entering the outer side of the Perimeter. Unfortunately, this lane is only separated by white rubber posts about two or three feet high -- the kind that are designed to fold down and be driven over -- and there is an intersection where traffic leaving the outer perimeter turns left or right onto 316. This intersection is accident prone because it is not very clear to exiting traffic that the right lane is blocked off, and drivers are prone to entering this lane either because they do not realize it is an exit lane or they do not understand they cannot use it to reenter the Perimeter. Traffic in that right lane does not stop because it is not supposed to, so this is extremely dangerous. Despite all the money that has been available to build the nearby Oconee Connector, cut off roads that intersect 316, and close crossings over 316, the DOT did not have the money to properly separate those lanes. Not only that, but they are not replacing the white rubber poles that are saving them so much money to begin with.