Ground breaking ceremony held for traffic light

Published 6:29 pm Tuesday, June 30, 2015


: City of Bainbridge, Decatur County Board of Education, Georgia Department of Transportation and state representatives gathered for a ceremonial groundbreaking before construction begins on a traffic light at Bainbridge High School. Pictured left-to right are Mayor Pro-Tem Don Whaley, BOE member Winston Rollins, State Representative Jay Powell, BOE member Jacky Grubbs, BOE member Kelvin Bouie, BOE Chairman Sydney Cochran, BHS principal Tommy Howell, GDoT representative Johnny Floyd, State Representative Darlene Taylor, State Senator Dean Burke and BOE members Keith Lyle and Bobby Barber. — Shelby Farmer

Tuesday, the City of Bainbridge held a ground breaking ceremony for a new traffic light that will be installed at the entrance of Bainbridge High School on Highway 84.

Thunderstorms cut the event short, but local and state representatives were present for the ceremony with an air of excitement.

The Georgia Department of Transportation will install the light over the next few weeks, pushing for completion by the time school starts back August 7.

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“We appreciate the opportunity to come into Bainbridge and making this possible and to make our young people aware of the dangers and everything,” said Johnny Floyd, State

Transportation Board member representing Georgia Congressional District Two. “Our slogan says, ‘Drive alert, arrive alive,’ and we want them to do that.”

Getting a traffic light installed has been an ongoing effort from local officials after GDoT raised the speed limit on Highway 84 from 55 to 65 mph last summer based on the results of a statewide study in May 2014.

This increase also affected the BHS school zone, making the limit 55 mph initially.

Bainbridge High School principal Tommy Howell said that he is pleased for the additional safety measure.

“I am grateful for everything we can do to make it a safer passage for our students, faculty and parents,” Howell said.

Decatur County Schools Superintended Dr. Fred Rayfield and the Decatur County Board of Education approached the GDoT after the initial speed hike and requested three changes: extend the turning lane into the high school property, expand the school zone on both sides of the BHS property and reduce the schools zone’s speed back down to 45.

The GDoT complied with all three throughout the year.

“I am so happy this project came together,” State Representative Darlene Taylor said. “It seemed like we worked for a while to get it done, but they dotted every i, crossed every t, and we’ve got it here for children’s safety and the citizens who ride up and down this road. This is a heavily traveled road. Safety first.”

State Senator Dean Burke said that he was most impressed with the high levels of cooperation between the varying levels of government.

“I think the most important part was the fact that everybody was able to work together,” Burke said. “We laugh about it, but it is not easy to get different levels of government to talk and communicate and come to a consensus on a project. Even though it might seem low on the big scale, it’s just a sign that effective government is here.”