For nearly a year, the proposed roundabout at the intersection of Antioch and Goza has been on the fast track, but the county is putting the brakes on the project to see if their interim fix might be suitable in the longterm. At Thursday night’s meeting, the County Board of Commissioners voted to follow the Transportation Committee’s recommendation to delay roundabout construction for six months to see if the temporary four-way stop measures are sufficient instead.
The intersection was thrust into the spotlight in fall 2017 when area residents pressed the county to finally fix the crossroads that had become increasingly dangerous. A roundabout was chosen as the end game, with a four-way stop as an interim fix.
Joe Robison with Public Works detailed the intersection crash data culled in the 10 months since the four-way stop was installed. In the 10 months prior, there were 10 accidents, including one rear end, with 12 injuries, and one fatality. Since the installation, there have been three accidents, including one rear end, with one injury.
Commissioner Charles Oddo called this an opportunity to see if a cheaper fix could be proven to do the job as effectively as the more expensive option, clearing up money for other intersections in the process.
“What was our goal? It was to make the intersection safe. We didn’t know if a roundabout or a four-way stop would do it,” he said. “The question we have is can we gain more information by waiting and looking, and if it looks like it’s succeeding, we have other dangerous intersections (we could fix).”
Commissioner Steve Brown and Chairman Eric Maxwell warned that the public’s reaction to the broken promise could be swift, especially if there is another fatal accident in the meantime. They said that the commissioners already voted that a roundabout was the safest solution, and it made little sense to delay it to possibly save money at the risk of lives.
“We promised those people we were going to do a roundabout. The room was packed full of people, and I gave my word to all of them,” said Brown, pointing out that the project had been in the works since the 2004 SPLOST. “I think if you postpone this and God forbid money gets changed to another project and somebody gets killed in that intersection again, here you go, we’re going to do it all again, the furor from the public, the outrage. Everything is going to come back when they see a dead body in that intersection.”
Maxwell agreed that it wouldn’t be prudent to wait until the next disaster to push forward.
“We listened to a number of folks who have horror stories, including one family that lost a family member. This is classic cost-benefit analysis that I’m not going to be a part of. I’m not going to wait until the next person gets killed or the next person gets injured,” he said. “You don’t make a commitment and then back out of it.”
Commissioner Charles Rousseau agreed the commissioners put their names on the line when asking for approval of a SPLOST list that included a roundabout, but he thought it still made sense to gather more information.
“We’ve made a commitment to the citizenry to do something, and on that SPLOST list is a roundabout, but at the same time I think it is wise, it is prudent for us to also look and see what these measures have accomplished,” he said.
He was willing to see how the intersection pans out, and pointed to the brewing danger on the other side of the county at the intersection of 92 and Westbridge Road as a spot that could benefit from a shift in priorities and a “fast track” process like was given to Antioch-Goza.
“We’ve created (a problem) at 92 and Westbridge, so I would like to (ask) for the record we should show the same degree of ferocity,” he said, citing an even higher volume of traffic. “That issue is critical in my estimation.”
The motion passed 3-2, with Brown and Maxwell opposing, meaning the Antioch-Goza intersection will stay a four-way stop for at least the next six months.