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Effingham County is about to attempt to curtail the number of accidents at one of its most troubled intersections.
Commissioners have directed county staff to make the intersection at Blue Jay and Midland roads a four-way stop. Currently, traffic on Blue Jay has to come to a stop at the crossing, while vehicles traveling on Midland Road are considered through traffic and do not have to stop.
Interim county administrator Toss Allen said the stop signs could be in place by the first of next month, after the county installs message boards to alert drivers of the intersection change.
“We want to have those up for about a week before the stop signs go in,” he said.
Allen said commissioners told him they had been getting input from citizens about doing something with the intersection, which has been the site of several serious accidents.
Law enforcement officials backed the commissioners’ proposal to turn the intersection into a four-way stop.
“We are hoping it will slow people down and reduce crashes,” Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie said.
The county also will include rumble strips on Midland Road to warn drivers of the approaching stop.
“They can put those in in a day,” Allen said. “It’s a matter of when they can come out and do it.”
The flashing light at the intersection, which now blinks yellow to drivers on Midland and red to motorists on Blue Jay, will be changed to display red for all directions. All that needs to happen is for an electrician in a bucket truck to change out the lenses, Allen explained.
A state Department of Transportation survey of the intersection, conducted last September, recommended improving the sight lines for drivers approaching the crossing by cutting down limbs that may obscure vision. The report also called for the intersection to be made into a four-way stop.
The state, however, did not recommend installing a traffic signal at the intersection.
“The suggestion of the report was to trim limbs, which we have done, and make it a four-way stop,” Allen said.
The manual of uniform traffic control devices, published by the Federal Highway Administration, sets out criteria for which intersections merit traffic signals. The state study of the Midland-Blue Jay crossing, conducted under the auspices of the MUTCD, found a signal was not warranted there. The number of accidents and the volume of traffic coming through the intersection did not rise to the level dictating installation of a signal.
The state’s study said a multi-way stop could improve the intersection.
Allen also said that a four-way stop would not cause excessive delay times for vehicles on Midland Road.
“We strive to keep all our intersections operating the best we can,” he said. “We’ll put this in place, and hopefully, this remedies a lot of that situation. If not, we’ll look at it again.”
Though the stop signs are going up, the sheriff’s office will be around to ensure drivers are paying attention to the new road conditions.
“We will have a stronger presence in the area when the signs go up, reminding people to stop,” McDuffie said.