Officials say that after a month-long comment and observation period, construction barrels blocking turns in and out of a south Forsyth intersection will soon be removed.
In a statement to the Forsyth County News, Katie Strickland, district communications specialist for the Georgia Department of Transportation, said the barrels, which were put up at the intersection of Callaway Court and Hwy. 141 following a fatal wreck in January, will be removed over the next month to return access to the east and west sides of Peachtree Parkway.
After the fatal wreck, many in the south Forsyth community questioned the roadway’s safety. GDOT put the barrels up in early May while it solicited feedback about the change from nearby residents.
Of the nearly 100 comments sent to GDOT during that period, commenters were split fairly evenly between opposing a permanent solution at the intersection and suggesting a traffic light at the intersection, with a minority of commenters voicing their approval for a closed median, according to records obtained by the FCN.
Some commenters said the solution made them feel safer, explaining that the inconvenience of making a U-Turn was worth it, while others said that the solution made roadways more dangerous and chaotic when combined with traffic from other businesses and roadways.
After a traffic study and the community’s comments, Strickland said GDOT determined that no action is warranted for the intersection.
"This was an unfortunate accident. Obviously, we understand that it was a huge, huge tragedy to the communities out there," she said. "But as far as any changes there, we are not going to be making any permanent changes there."
She said that according to the traffic study, there was not a large enough traffic or crash volume at the intersection to justify making any permanent changes, such as a traffic light or a closed median.
Of the crashes that were recorded at the intersection, 14 between 2011 and 2018 according to GDOT data, Strickland said that none were what are considered “correctable crashes” or crashes that could be prevented by a change to the road.
Crashes caused by a driver’s behavior, failure to yield, failure to maintain lane or following too closely would not be included in that category.
"We take it seriously when we have to invest in different things and we want to make sure that when we are investing in improvements and upgrades or changing anything on our roadways, that we are being good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” she said. “So, going and building something that is several hundred thousand dollars of tax payer money, we need to be able to support the fact that there is a return on that safety investment or enhancement.”
After hearing the GDOT decision on Friday, community leader Nazeera Dawood said that while many in the community are disappointed, they feel as if the intersection has been made safer, simply by the awareness the issue raised.
Strickland said crews will work over the next month to repaint stripes and update signs at the intersection. Dawood said that it is now up to the surrounding community to educate themselves on how to safely navigate the intersection and mitigate risks.
"At some point we hoped the median would be half closed, with limited left turns,” she said. “But if that is only going to cause more chaos and inconvenience then I think it's bent upon individual families and individuals to be more careful and aware.”