The Georgia Department of Transportation plans to fix what many consider to be a dangerous intersection in Bainbridge: where Georgia 97 South meets Old Quincy Road, aka the Georgia 97 Connector.
The intersection, where two roads merge into one in a ‘V’ shape, has been the site of several serious vehicle accidents over the years, including one that killed a teenage boy in June 2013 and another that killed an elderly woman in July 2010.
In April, the Georgia DOT’s Tifton office sent a letter to City of Bainbridge officials acknowledging a safety issue and proposing a fix, according to Bainbridge Mayor Edward Reynolds. The design initially proposed by the DOT was to create a traffic roundabout. A roundabout is a traffic circle that requires drivers entering the traffic circle to merge to other drivers who are already going around the circle in a clockwise direction.
However, when we asked Mayor Reynolds about the idea, he implied that the roundabout idea was dismissed because it would introduce unnecessary complexity to the heavily-traveled road.
Instead, DOT engineers went back to the drawing board and proposed a design that will essentially transform the intersection from a ‘V’ shape into a nearly 90-degree angle, according to Bainbridge Public Services Director Steve Winburn.
From having observed wrecks there previously, there are two major causes of accidents at the intersection:
- Vehicles headed southbound on Old Quincy Road / 97 Connector fail to make a complete stop at the yield sign, and run into the path of vehicles traveling southbound on Georgia 97 South (Faceville Road)
- Vehicles headed northbound on Georgia 97 (Faceville Road) attempt to veer left onto the Georgia 97 Connector / Old Quincy Road, misjudge the speed of vehicles coming from the opposite direction on Faceville Road and turn into their path.
The July 2010 wreck involved the second scenario; an elderly woman died of injuries received in a crash in which her husband’s car turned into the path of a southbound vehicle.
The June 2013 wreck was similar, except that the teen driver of a pickup truck attempted to pass a vehicle going northbound on GA 97 that was attempting to turn left onto Old Quincy Road. The pickup truck collided head-on with another pickup truck, and the driver of the passing truck was not wearing his seatbelt.