A recent Georgia Department of Transportation traffic study showed a need for traffic signals at the intersection of Brooklet-Denmark Road and Georgia Route 67, where stop signs on Brooklet-Denmark are currently the only traffic controls.
Now the department is negotiating with Reeves Construction, which led the virtually complete $40 million-plus widening of Route 67 in Bulloch County, to install the traffic signals and make any related changes to the roadway, said Georgia DOT District 5 Communications Officer Jill Nagel.
“We’re in negotiations with the contractor that handled the widening of 67, and we are doing a supplemental agreement,” she said. “This is the fastest way we could expedite to get this signal put in at this location.”
The traffic signals and related improvements could cost more than $500,000, Nagel said Tuesday.
She added that the projected timespan for the work to be complete is six to seven months. This suggests that the signals could be functional in November or December, if the DOT and Reeves arrive at an agreement soon.
Not so simple
“What they’re negotiating is the cost, what materials will be used and how many days will be needed to complete this,” Nagel said. “To the general public this may look simple, but you have to think about the traffic controls, will there be a turn lane, and we just put in curb-and-gutter, will we have to redo the curb and gutter for more lanes? A lot of that is being negotiated now.”
The Georgia DOT awarded Reeves, the lowest-priced of several bidders, a $41,168,661 contract in August 2018 for the widening of Georgia Route 67 from Statesboro’s bypass to Interstate 16. The previously two-lane roadway was rebuilt to four lanes with a 32-foot-wide depressed median for most of the 10.02-mile project length. Some sections are narrower, with a 14-foot paved center lane serving as a two-way left-turn lane.
This project, more than a quarter century in consideration and planning, was completed to the extent that all lanes were opened to traffic Sept. 9, 2020. However, the highway widening project still is not considered fully finished, Nagel said.
“They are going and doing corrective work,” she said. “We’re making sure that road is going to be perfect, exactly the way it’s designed and the way we’re paying for it to be.”
So the supplemental agreement for traffic signals and related changes will be made part of the same contract, Nagel said.
When plans for the traffic study were announced last September, state Rep. Jan Tankersley (R-Brooklet, District 160), who travels the route often, called entering or crossing the intersection “scary.” A slight hill that prevents seeing fast-oncoming cars in time to cross safely is part of the reason, she told Statesboro Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon.
As also reported in September, records from the Georgia State Patrol Post 45 showed that troopers investigated 31 accidents at the intersection between Aug. 31, 2018 and Aug, 31, 2020.
One of those crashes was fatal. Statesboro resident Danny Tidwell, a choreographer and former contestant on the television competition show “So You Think You Can Dance,” died as a result of a two-vehicle accident at the intersection March 6, 2020.
Studies of the intersection had also been conducted in 2017 and 2019, but DOT officials determined that it did not meet the threshold for a traffic signal. Last fall, both Tankersley and Bulloch County commissioners Chairman Roy Thompson said the widening project was likely to make the intersection more dangerous in the absence of a traffic light.
Traffic has increased on the widened stretch of State Route 67 since it was fully opened, Nagel said this week. It now provides a four-lane alternative to U.S. Highway 301 between Statesboro and Interstate 16.
“So that may have affected the traffic study,” she said. “Remember, we couldn’t do that study till we got all four lanes open and the regular flow of traffic so we could get a true picture of the traffic in that area.”
The Statesboro Herald submitted an open records request for the traffic study report Wednesday to GDOT District 5 Legal Coordinator Patricia Dieveney, who stated that she hopes to provide it by the end of the week.