Citing far better safety numbers than anticipated, the County Board of Commissioners voted at Thursday night’s meeting to forego the planned roundabout at the intersection of Antioch Road and Goza Road and stick with a four-way stop.
Joe Robison, transportation engineer for the county, presented the impressive safety numbers.
From 2014 until 2017, there were 31 crashes, 29 of which were attributed to running a stop sign or failure to yield, with 25 injuries, and one fatality. Since the installation of the four-way stop as a temporary fix in November 2017, there have been just three crashes and one injury, with none since summer 2018.
Projections up to the year 2040 showed that a four-way stop should provide an acceptable level of service until 2036.
The change in plans will also save the county money. While the roundabout carried an estimated cost of roughly $750,000, the temporary fix cost roughly $7,500. More paving and striping is planned, but it will still represent significant savings, including no additional right-of-way acquisition needed.
Residents in the area will likely be happy to hear that they do plan to pave over the current rumble strips and replace them with a smaller, quieter version. They likely won’t go away totally because Robison said they are effective in alerting drivers to the approaching stop signs.
“I know, right now, those rumble strips you can hear them just about to Canada,” joked Robison.
The 81 percent reduction in accidents was enough to convince most of the commissioners that the four-way stop will do the trick for many years go come.
Commissioner Charles Rousseau sought and received the support from three of his colleagues to vote to stick with the four-way stop and shift $300,000 from the roundabout project to the intersection of 92 and Westbridge Road. The intersection is at the mercy of GDOT, but Rousseau wants the county to do as much as it can to expedite the process.
“I think the evidence is clear that the measure that we used (at Antioch-Goza) is working,” said Rousseau. “I think we can look to put resources in other areas that have equal priority, and I offer to you 92 and Westbridge because that situation is similar to Antioch and Goza.”
In the same way that Antioch-Goza rocketed to the top of the county’s priority list, he hopes a kick start could help put 92-Westbridge on the fast track.
“I understand the transportation committee and our staff have been working very diligently with GDOT in sharing information and awaiting final word about what will go out there. What I’m trying to do is anticipate, instead of us looking for dollars,” he said. “We start off with some seed money that expedites it once GDOT does respond.”
Commissioner Eric Maxwell refused to offer his support for changing gears, saying the taxpayers had come to expect the roundabout would be coming. He pushed for continuing with the $750,000 roundabout project so as to not make the $100,000 already spent on designs a sunk cost.
“I think that a vote for this four-way stop is an acknowledgement of a waste of $100,000 in design fees, and, if that’s the message you want to send the citizens that this Board will make a decision and 18 months later will reverse itself and throw $100,000 in the trash can, that’s the decision that you’re making, and that’s a terrible decision.”
With the four-way stop boasting proven results, the other commissioners countered that there are better uses for the taxpayers’ money.
“The information shows that it’s a much safer intersection, and if we can make several intersections safer throughout the county, I think it’s better for the citizens,” said Chairman Randy Ognio. “If we can make them half as safe as this one, we’ll be fortunate with this money. We’ve got to do the best with the money we have.”
Commissioner Charles Oddo agreed it makes sense to turn attention towards intersections that are now in greater need.
“What I voted on was to fix a problem, not to build a roundabout,” he said. “This problem has been alleviated. I mean it’s impressive how much it’s been alleviated with the simple fix.
“We don’t need to build a roundabout to fix a problem that’s no longer broken.”
The roundabout will still stay in the county’s long range transportation plan should traffic volume increase enough to warrant it in the future.