The Georgia Department of Transportation plans to conduct another study of the intersection of Brooklet-Denmark Road and Highway 67 as soon as the current road widening project is completed.
Both state and local officials are receiving complaints and concerns from residents about the dangers of the intersection. The attention to the intersection was renewed after Bulloch County Commissioners announced the pending addition of a traffic light at the intersection of Veteran’s Memorial Parkway and Cypress Lake Road. That project is expected to begin next month.
Georgia DOT District Communications Officer Jill Nagel said Friday the Bulloch County intersection is a “top priority” and the DOT hopes to start the new study within 30 days, “weather permitting,” as soon as the last orange barrels and flashing lights are removed from the completed widening project site.
The intersection of Brooklet-Denmark Road and Highway 67 has long been a concern, said state Rep. Jan Tankersley (R-Brooklet, District 160). She travels the route often, she said. Crossing or entering the busy intersection “is scary,” in part due to a slight hill that prevents seeing fast-oncoming cars in time to navigate the intersection safely.
Studies were conducted in 2017 and 2019, but DOT officials determined the intersection did not meet the needs for a traffic signal, she said. Nagle confirmed the results of those studies, but said a new study is needed in order to evaluate the traffic flow now after the widening to four lanes and a center turn lane are completed.
It is likely the widening has made the intersection even more dangerous, Tankersley said. It was the site of numerous crashes before the road work began.
Records from the Georgia State Patrol Post 45 in Statesboro, provided by Post Secretary Ginger Robbins, say troopers investigated 31 accidents at the intersection between Aug. 31, 2018 and Aug, 31, 2020. One of those crashes was fatal.
Bulloch County leaders are working with Tankersley and GDOT to expedite the study and hope the results will lead to a traffic signal. They “have actively been sharing concerns about the safety of the intersection,” said Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch in a statement released last week.
The intersection has long been on the commission’s radar.
“We have known for several years, before the State Route 67 widening project, that this intersection would become more dangerous without a traffic light,” said Bulloch County Commission Chairman Roy Thompson. “Our county staff has reached out to GDOT District staff in Jesup periodically since before the beginning of the construction project about this issue, and I have been in frequent contact with Representative Tankersley. We have offered whatever county resources that we have available to expedite a solution.”
Tankersley reiterated that GDOT officials realize the urgency of need for the new study.
“The District 5 GDOT office in Jesup has recently informed me the re-evaluation of the intersection is already in process,” she said. “A report may be issued as early as next week to include recommendations for consideration from a safety consultant. I have asked GDOT and Bulloch County to keep me informed on progress so that we all can be responsive to the concerns of our constituents on this matter.”
Nagel said the study will include possible alternatives for safety measures should the intersection still not meet signal standards after the new study.
Couch acknowledged such projects take time, and explained the new light going up at Cypress Lake Road and the bypass “has taken over a year to get state approval and permits where a bid for construction is finally approved. A traffic study or evaluation on signalization that meets GDOT warrants or justification is needed, first. After that, there is typically up to four additional levels of approval needed before you can commence bidding and construction.”
Nagle did not give a length of time studies will take but said the next study will begin immediately upon road work completion.
As for the Cypress Lake Road signal, Bulloch County Engineer Brad Deal said he expects the project will be completed as early as mid-December, weather permitting.
“In addition to state permitting, on this project we have had to use an outside consultant to design the project to meet their standards, move utilities and acquire additional right-of-way,” he said
Resident concerns are being taken seriously, Thompson said.
“We intend to be vigilant, yet helpful, in trying to get this situation corrected promptly. We understand that the state has procedures they have to follow, but in this case, what accommodated local traffic flows years ago is not sufficient as our community continues to grow.”
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.