Fatal junction close to school = asinine
As a parent of a student at Bennett’s Mill Middle School, I am all too familiar with the treacherous intersection at Ga. Highway 54 and Huiet Road. It was already frighteningly risky to make a left hand turn onto Hwy. 54 BEFORE construction began on the West Fayetteville Bypass.
The condition of that intersection when school started prompted me to say prophetically to another mother at Bennett’s Mill just two weeks ago, “Someone was going to be killed there.”
So I am sickened that [on Aug. 13] that disastrous intersection did indeed claim the life of an innocent 21-year-old woman at 3:54 in the afternoon, while Bennett’s Mill was dismissing students for the weekend.
The incompetence of the Georgia DOT cannot be overlooked in this situation. Schoolbuses have always had to travel three miles out of their way to to enter Hwy. 54 safely at the traffic light at Old Norton Road, so the DOT and school board clearly recognized how dangerous the intersection was.
But to leave that intersection as dysfunctional as it has been since school began is asinine. The fact that the traffic light won’t be installed for at least three months because, as The Citizen reported, the arm has yet to be manufactured, underscores the DOT’s negligence and neglect.
That arm should have been ordered months earlier, not only so that it would be ready when construction was complete, but also to insure that it could be installed while construction was occurring so that it could have been used as a warning for motorists. Is there no one at the DOT who understands a time line for procuring parts for a traffic light?
The paper reported that deputies don’t intend to file any charges. My heart goes out not only to the victim’s family, but to the driver of the car that hit her. It was not fate that put him on the road that day, it was the DOT’s negligence that paved the way for this fatal error.
I’d also like to add that given how heated the debate over the West Fayetteville Bypass has been, the story of this fatal wreck certainly deserved front page attention. The headline alone: “West Fayetteville Bypass intersection claims first fatality: woman, 21,” clearly indicates the reporter’s bias that this won’t be the last. This tragedy should not have been buried on Page 11.
Peachtree City, Ga.
[Editor’s note: The West Fayetteville Bypass is an exclusively Fayette County Commission project being paid for with local funds raised through a countywide special local option sales tax (SPLOST). The contractor for the project was hired and is being paid by the Fayette County Commission. The Georgia Department of Transportation did not design the project, has no construction role in the project, is not overseeing the project and is not paying for it. The DOT’s only role was in the beginning to approve the overall county project plans since the bypass crosses a state highway.]