Bulloch County’s modified plan to place actual red-yellow-green traffic signals on Cypress Lake Road at Veterans Memorial Parkway has been approved by the Georgia Department of Transportation, after a lengthy delay in the project from a proximity conflict with Georgia Power transmission lines.
But don’t expect to see those traffic lights up and working before 2022, according to the latest information from the county’s engineer. This busy intersection on Statesboro’s U.S. Highway 301 bypass is currently served by stop signs on Cypress Lake Road and flashing red and yellow cautions.
Last Sept. 1, nearly 11 months ago, the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners awarded local company Ellis Wood Contracting a $538,948 bid for improvements to the intersection. These will include dedicated left-turn lanes and short right-turn lanes from both directions on Cypress Lake Road and crosswalks with pedestrian signals, as well as the overhead traffic signals.
But as previously reported, Georgia Power in January informed the county that the planned signal support poles and wires would be too close to the company’s existing high-voltage transmission lines, which cross the intersection diagonally.
After the county commissioners rejected Georgia Power’s March 2 proposal to reposition the transmission lines for a charge of $287,507, power company officials received an alternative plan from the county. County Engineer Brad Deal and the contracted design firm, Parker Engineering, proposed using shorter poles with mast arms to hold the traffic signals and running all the wires to the signals underground.
Georgia Power approved this plan back on March 29. But then Parker Engineering had to do more detailed plans for the Georgia DOT’s review.
“Georgia Power had approved it,” Deal said this week. “We did not get the official approval from GDOT until last Friday, July 16th.… We had sent them the plans a while back, but it had to go to Atlanta, and they did have us revise the plans some.”
Masts and borings
So now, Parker Engineering is working with Ellis Wood Contracting on a change order to incorporate the different traffic signal supports into the overall plan. This will increase the price over the original contract amount.
The special poles and mast arms will be more expensive than the poles and wires in the original plan, Deal said. The revised plan also requires much more “directional boring” under the roadways, since all the wiring will be underground.
Unlike intersections downtown where two poles with two mast arms each support traffic lights in four directions, the wider bypass intersection will require four separate poles, each with one mast arm.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t get the prices ahead of time because if you move one of these poles just a little bit here or there, it changes the cost of the pole and it changes the design because they have to custom make these poles for the intersection,” Deal said.
The mast arm has to be an exact length from the pole’s location for a correct alignment with the traffic lanes.
Final cost unknown
Deal believes that the added cost will still be less than the $287,507 Georgia Power requested to raise its transmission lines.
“I don’t think it will be anywhere close to that,” he said.
That $287,507, plus Ellis Wood’s $538,948 contract, would have made the total construction expense $826,455, not counting engineering costs. The county had $715,000 budgeted for the project, including $350,000 from a Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant from the Georgia DOT, and $365,000 from the county’s own Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
Six months for poles
The poles have not been ordered yet, because the county must first approve the change order. If the cost increases more than $25,000, the commissioners will have to approve, but that could be done within a month. Then there are the current uncertainties of manufacturing and delivery.
“But there’s also work that could be done while they’re waiting on some of those materials to come in, because there’s some paving work that has to be done, putting in turn lanes,” Deal said.
So, when will it all be done and the signals working?
“By the time they get traffic signal poles here, because I’ve been told it takes at least six months to get those poles, it’s probably going to be early next year before the entire project could be finished,” Deal said.
From 2013 to 2019 the intersection was the scene of 79 vehicle crashes, including 33 with injuries and one with a fatality, according to information from a Georgia DOT database.