Walton County and GDOT move ahead with plans to get a traffic light at deadly Hwy 78 intersection

Double fatality Sunday again highlights danger of that intersection

Cross paying tribute to David King, 73, of Loganville who lost his life in a crash at the intersection of Highway 78 and Youth Monroe Road on Sept. 22, 2023. Photo credit: Sharon Swanepoel

WALTON COUNTY, GA (May 1, 2024) – Following Sunday’s double fatality at Highway 78 (Ga.10) and Youth Monroe Road involving a truck and a Harley Davidson trike, attention has again been focused on that particular intersection. It was not the first fatality at that intersection and, if nothing is done about it, it likely won’t be the last. The roadside still bears the cross erected there by the family of David King, 73, of Loganville, who died at that same intersection on Sept. 22, 2023.

But it does look like something is finally going to be done about it.

Statistics provided by Walton County Sheriff’s Office show that since 2008, there have been 206 crashes at that intersection resulting in 42 injuries and six fatalities, three of them in the last seven months.

Daniel and Melissa Miller died Sunday when the trike they were on traveling east on Ga. 10 collided with a Chevrolet 2500 attempting to turn left onto Highway 78 from Youth Monroe Road. Georgia State Patrol Post 46 Commander Richard Thacker said the crash is still under investigation.

“We are looking into everything from the speed of the trike to sight distance,” Thacker said.

Elizabeth Johnson, communication officer for Georgia Department of Transportation District 1, said that GDOT is currently working with Walton County on that intersection and it is expected to eventually result in a permanent traffic signal.

“The county is designing some reworks on the Youth Monroe Road. Discussions are occurring on the design for a permanent signal,” Johnson said, adding, “This is still in the preliminary stages.”

Walton County and Georgia Department of Transportation plan improvements and a traffic light at Intersection of Highway 78 and Youth Monroe Road. Photo credit: Sharon Swanepoel

However, this latest tragedy appears to have lit a fire under the efforts to get something done sooner rather than later. Walton County officials released a statement Wednesday giving an update on efforts that had already begun toward eventually getting a traffic light at Highway 78 and Youth Monroe Road.

“On Monday, Chairman David Thompson and State Representative Bruce Williamson joined forces to help make this happen. On Monday afternoon County Manager, John Ward, received word from the GA DOT District office that they would be partnering with Walton County to make safety improvements at this intersection,” the statement read. “The DOT will be installing the traffic light on HWY 78. Walton County will be installing safety improvements on Walton County roads at HD Atha @ Youth-Monroe Road, Sardis Church Road @ Youth-Monroe Road, and HD Atha @ Sardis Church Road.”

It was noted that GDOT and Walton County have initiated design of the needed improvements with the improvements to Walton County intersections occurring first. The installation of the signal on Highway 78 will then follow.

Motorists are urged to use caution at these intersections while the projects are being designed and during construction. On Friday last week, a motorcycle crash on Highway 78 near the intersection of Sardis Church Road two days before Sunday’s crash just one intersection over resulted in a critical injury to the motorcyclist.

Walton County officials report that these improvements will be funded by SPLOST funds. Voters are currently asked to renew the SPLOST fund through a ballot initiative this month.

“One reason that categories, like Transportation Improvements, are used on the SPLOST referendum is so that local government officials have flexibility to address safety concerns based on ongoing changes and safety data. While this was in the works, the availability of SPLOST funds allows Walton County to prioritize and to move quickly, instead of having to wait to include it in a yearly budget. SPLOST revenue that is collected from those that do not live here but pass through help so that this much needed safety project is funded by all who use it rather than just Walton County property owners,” Walton County officials noted in the released statement

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