by: Richard Elliot Updated:HALL COUNTY, Ga. —
The Georgia Department of Transportation admits traffic lights installed at a dangerous Hall County intersection don't appear to have made the intersection much safer.
Three people died early Friday morning in a four-vehicle chain reaction crash at Highway 365 and Howard Road. Gainesville police said their investigation continues, but they're waiting for toxicology reports to return to determine who was at fault. They do believe alcohol may have played a part in the accident.
Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan said the intersection, which has the first traffic light after Interstate 985 becomes State Highway 365, has been dangerous for years, even before the state installed those traffic lights eight months ago.
"The lights went up at the end of November last year," said Dunagan. "Since then, we've had 21 accidents, and that's not including the accident from last week."
Dunagan, along with Hall County law enforcement and elected officials, met with GDOT officials Monday to express their concerns. The DOT conceded there is a problem.
"We put a signal in there last year, and we thought that would solve some of
those T-bone crashes," said GDOT Spokesperson Mark McKinnon. "But we're still having those problems. We're going to study this again. We don't want any more of these tragedies to happen. It's a terrible thing, and we want to stop it."
McKinnon and Dunagan said they are looking at alternate solutions to the
problem, including lowering the speed limit, adding acceleration lanes so cars won't pull out in front of oncoming traffic and adding rumble sticks, those raised bumps in the road that buzz tires as they drive over them.
"We don't want to make any hasty decisions and throw something out there, because a lot of the time, if you make a quick decision and put something out there, you can make a problem worse than it already is," said McKinnon.
Dunagan said the GDOT meeting went well, and he's hopeful changes will be made to make 365 at Howard Road safer for everyone. He also stressed that drivers must be more careful at the intersection and pay attention to the numerous warning signs posted well before the intersection.