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Northside Drive locations to receive new street numbers

Bulloch County 911 is planning a major overhaul of addresses along Northside Drive as a way to make emergency response efforts more efficient.

By the start of 2014, nearly every building on the busy highway will sport a new numerical address, according to Kelly Barnard, the director of Bulloch, Evans and Candler County Emergency 911.

New numbers are being assigned, she said, because as businesses have moved in each year, more and more inconsistencies have appeared in the system — inconsistencies that can delay a confused ambulance driver or police officer responding to an emergency call.

“In most cases, you should have odd number addresses on one side of the road and even numbers on the other, and they should go up in increments as you travel down the road,” Barnard said. “What you have on Northside Drive East and West, where the issues are, is: you’ll be in the 100 block, then it’ll jump, maybe, to a 300-block number, and then go back into 100-block or 200-block numbers, for example. All of sudden, as you’re moving down the road, you get these strange numbers that just don’t flow. We get to the point where ambulance crews, law enforcement or fire crews may have issues finding the addresses.

“It’s become really messed up, and we have to do something about it,” she said.

Problems have arisen, mostly, as a result of rapid growth along the corridor during the previous two decades.

In some cases, the office has even run out of numbers to assign new buildings.

“When you start stacking new locations behind one another and right on top of each other, you run out of numbers pretty quickly,” Barnard said.

The growing number of issues along Northside Drive makes a delay more likely for emergency service professionals who are searching for a business or residence — when a mere minutes, or even seconds, could mean the difference in life or death.

To illustrate an example, Barnard said: “Imagine you’re looking for an address that should be on your left side and just down the road; you search for a while, and eventually find it behind you and on the right side.”

Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn said he “is sure” there have been instances where confusion regarding an address delayed response to calls on Northside Drive.

“From a public safety perspective: many times all we have to go on, in responding to a scene, is a numerical address (because a caller doesn’t have time or the opportunity to give more direction),” Wynn said. “We may have to put an ambulance, police officer or EMS on the scene without the caller being able to give us an exact location. Being able to do that quickly, with no confusion, will be the biggest plus to having places properly addressed.”

To help prepare the dozens of property owners along the highway for change, Bulloch County 911 will mail out letters to land owners with instructions and information pertaining to their new address.

Letters will be sent in November and, according to Barnard, new addresses will become effective in January.
Property owners, while required to post the new address next year, will still be able to receive mail at their old address for up to one year — at which point the U.S. Postal Service will remove the address from their system.

Barnard said virtually every property along Northside Drive (except a few locations on Northside Drive West) will receive a new numerical address.

She said there has been some discussion with city of Statesboro officials about hosting a town-hall style meeting to discuss changes with those affected, but no meeting has yet been set.

Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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