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Speed limits to change at intersection

POSTED: July 25, 2011 6:44 p.m.

Speed limits around the Blue Jay and Midland roads intersection could be changing soon.

Effingham County commissioners have agreed to reduce the distance from the intersection where approaching vehicles have to slow down from 55 mph. Currently, the speed limit on Blue Jay and Midland drops from 55 to 45 mph one mile from the intersection. It decreases to 35 mph one-fourth of a mile from the crossroads.

“At this intersection, we’ve had concerns about the distance of the slow down between the roads,” said county project manager Adam Kobek. “The distance is now one mile. That would be decreasing to a half mile.”

Under the new limits, speeds would drop from 55 mph to 45 mph one half-mile from the intersection as motorists approach it and would be 45 mph as they drew to within a quarter-mile of it.

“We would need to update the radar permit and have a traffic study done,” Kobek said. That work, Kobek explained, can be accomplished by the county’s public works engineering.

Commissioner Steve Mason said those lower speed limits that far from the intersection are leading drivers to use Herbert Kessler Road as a short cut from Blue Jay to Midland. Herbert Kessler Road is a dirt road and the speed limit there is only 25 mph. There also is no radar permit for the road.

“Hopefully this will alleviate that,” he said.

Commissioners also approved a new capacity agreement with the state Department of Corrections for the Effingham County Prison.

The state provides the county $20 per day for each state inmate, which is expected to be $1.69 million per year. The state also will pay medical bills for the prison inmates and will cover costs in excess of $1,000 for emergency care.

The prison can accommodate 250 inmates but dropping the amount of state inmates there to 218 will open room for 32 inmates from the county jail who can be moved to the prison, depending on their classification.

“That should help significantly,” Kobek said.

Last month, commissioners picked a design-build team for a new jail and sheriff’s administration complex. A new jail would replace a problem-plagued facility and is at the top of the project list of the special purpose local options sales tax approved by voters last year.

The current jail has room for 130 prisoners, and Effingham often sends out prisoners it can’t house to other counties at a cost of $324,000 a year ago.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” said Commissioner Vera Jones said of the capacity agreement. “It’ll give us another year to look at what we want to do.”

In preparation for the new agreement, the county also cut two positions.

Commissioners also approved a contract with the Coastal Regional Commission for the Area Agency on Aging. The county had to re-do its proposal with the CRC and get additional funding for the seniors meals and ended up with an increase of $40,000. Under the pact, the county will deliver meals to senior citizens at their homes for 250 days a year, with a maximum of 10 holidays to be observed.

The target amount for home-delivered meals is 17,895 and the target for congregate meals served at the senior citizens center is 8,902. Cost for the home-delivered meals is $109,000 and for the congregate meals is $188,000.

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