DOT starts two Bainbridge projects

Published 10:02 pm Friday, October 31, 2014

At the end of October, the Georgia Department of Transportation started construction on two state roadway projects in Decatur County to enhance safety. 

Oxford Construction Co. of Albany is the contractor for both projects.

The first project is an extension of a deceleration lane at the student entrance of Bainbridge High School on U.S. Highway 84, and the second is the realignment of the State Route 97 Connector at SR 97.

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Highway 84

Construction started Oct. 23 on the extension of the deceleration/right turn lane at the westernmost entrance of Bainbridge High School. The entrance is used by students and is the school’s most used driveway.

According to the GDOT, the construction cost is slightly more than $72,000 and will be completed by mid-to-late November.

The lane will be extended 200 feet with the addition of a 100-feet taper.

The project begins about four months after GDOT increased the speed limit on Highway 84 between Bainbridge and Thomasville from 55 miles per hour to 65 miles per hour, which also increased the school zone speed from 45 miles per hour to 55 miles per hour.

Since the speed limit increase this summer, Decatur County School District officials and the Board of Education have been working to address safety concerns from faculty and parents regarding student drivers and traffic issues.

Superintendent Dr. Fred Rayfield and school resource officers met with GDOT representatives and worked to find a solution.

“The engineers were very receptive to our situation,” Rayfield said at the Aug. 21 BOE work session, “and indicated that it was a statewide movement to increase as many state highways from 55 to 65. When they did that in Atlanta, they didn’t necessarily go look to see if there might be a school zone in the middle of one of those areas.”

The school zone was recently extended 350 feet to the west to accommodate the longer turn lane.

State Route 97 Connector

Construction began Monday, Oct. 27, on realigning the SR 97 Connector at SR 97. Oxford Construction will realign the Connector so that it meets SR 97 at a 90-degree angle.

The project will cost more than $127,000 and is expected to be complete in two-to-three weeks, according to GDOT.

The Connector currently merges with SR 97 in a “Y” shape, which means drivers traveling south on SR 97 who want to reach the Connector have to make a sharp and tight right turn that carries them into the oncoming lane of traffic, Bainbridge Public Services Director Steven Winburn said in a statement from GDOT.

The A & A Convenience Store and gas station sits in the triangle of the intersection, and many drivers use its parking lot to travel from the SR 97 to the Connector. Drivers going south on the Connector practically have to turn around in the seat in order to look to their left to see traffic approaching from the north on SR 97, Winburn said.

The realignment will bring the Connector closer to the gas station, and a striped island will delineate the lanes and rumble strips will be installed on the Connector near the stop bar. Stop signs will be installed on the left and right sides of the Connector for traffic traveling toward SR 97, according to GDOT.

The intersection has been a concern for drivers. In June of 2013, a two-car accident at the intersection involving teenage drivers led to the death of a Quincy, Fla. teen who was driving one of the trucks in the head-on collision.

The projects join the list of more than two dozen Quick Response Projects the Georgia DOT has completed in the southwest part of the state. The streamlined projects typically cost less than $200,000. They are identified by Georgia DOT engineers or city and county staff and are managed through the Office of Local Grants.