Some unhappy with fix at SR 78/Rowe/Troy Smith intersection

Following several years of complaints about the number of accidents at the intersection of Highway 78, Troy Smith Road and Rowe Road, the Georgia Department of Transportation is finally doing something about it.

But not everybody is happy with the fix.

Motorist began noticing the construction at the Rowe Road and State Road 78 (Highway 78) a few weeks ago and made calls to officials at Walton County, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office and the northeast Georgia district of Georgia DOT in an effort to find out what was going on. This weekend, WCSO posted the link to the Georgia DOT – Northeast Georgia district Facebook post that informed the public that an “RCUT project” was being constructed at that intersection.

According to information from the Georgia Department of Highway Safety, the RCUT,  or reduced conflict U-turn project, is characterized by the prohibition of left turns and through movements from a side-street approach, such as the Rowe Road and Troy Smith approaches to Highway 78. Instead of allowing a left turn or the vehicle to cross over the intersection (such as Highway 78 from Troy Smith to Rowe Road or from Rowe Road to Troy Smith,) the RCUT  intersection accommodates these movements by requiring drivers to turn right onto the main road and then make a U-turn maneuver at a one-way median opening after the intersection. Drivers can then either continue as they would have if they were making a left turn onto the highway or exit via a right turn if the intent had been to travel through the intersection.

“The reduced conflict U-turn (RCUT) makes SR 10/US 78 safer as this will eliminate the possibility for angle crashes and head-on collisions,” Georgia DOT District 1 communications officer Katie Strickland said.

After a series of collisions at the intersection last summer, Strickland advised that engineers from Georgia DOT were taking another look at the intersection. There had been calls for a traffic light, but at the time Strickland pointed out that there are specific “warrants” that need to be met in order to justify a traffic signal. Click or tap on this link for information on those specific warrants. Strickland says it was the findings of that study that has resulted in the construction of the RCUT project that is now underway at the Highway 78/Troy Smith/Rowe Road intersection.

“The data from the traffic study concluded the stop signs on the side streets were being obeyed, but drivers are not able to safely complete through or left turn movements,” Strickland said. “Crash data compiled from 2012-2016 revealed that 42 total crashes occurred, of those 42 crashes, 28 of them were angle crashes and those can be corrected by this RCUT project. This will reduce the points of conflict from 32 to 14.”

Crystal Carter, who regularly uses Rowe Road, is one of the many motorists not happy with the fix.
“This is the absolute worst idea. Do Walton County citizens not have a voice?” Carter said, going on to question whether local officials were advised of the project in advance. “Does GDOT just decide or were local officials involved? Is notice required to be posted to warn the community of the traffic change?”
Walton County Commission Chairman Kevin Little said the County was advised last year that the RCUT fix was under consideration, but was not notified that a decision had been made to proceed with the project.
“They presented that option about a year ago. We told them it would not be a favorable design for the citizens,” Little said, adding nothing more was shared with him until the project was already underway. He said he asked officials at the Georgia DOT field office while attending a meeting the day the project began after someone had asked about the construction on Highway 78. He said it was only then that he found out the decision had been made to proceed with it. 
Motorists who have to turn left from Troy Smith Road were not happy about having to drive all the way to the traffic light at New Hope Road to make a U-turn in order to go to Monroe.  In comments made on the Georgia DOT District 1 Facebook page, some residents said if they had to turn right, they may as well miss Monroe completely and just continue to  Loganville to do their shopping. However, Strickland said there would be opportunities closer to the intersection to make the U-turn.

“For westbound traffic there are four median breaks before New Hope Church Road, and on the eastbound side there is a mid-block opening less than a mile from the intersection before Bentley Road,” Strickland said.

Traffic engineer Mike Spack gives some information on RCUT projects, listing some of the pros and cons of this type of intersection. Click or tap on this link to find out more.

From 2017

Georgia DOT to re-evaluate Highway 78/Troy Smith intersection

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