BARROW COUNTY, Ga. - Last year, the Barrow County Sheriff's Office investigated more than 1,100 wrecks in the county. It's a number that continues to grow.
Many of those wrecks were along Georgia Highway 316. Already this year, there have been two fatal wrecks in Barrow County, one of them was on Georgia Highway 316 and killed a 5-year-old boy. Some drivers are frustrated with the dangerous conditions there, and are ready for the Georgia Department of Transportation to help.
Traffic enforcement Sgt. David Witte spends a lot of time at the busy intersection of Georgia Highway 316, and Loganville Highway/State Route-81. "It is the busiest intersection I can think of in this county. The most wrecks occur here at this intersection," explained Sgt. Witte.
It's also the site where a young boy lost his life this month, after the car he was in was t-boned, after the driver failed to yield while turning left from Georgia Highway 316. "Anytime a child's involved it's always tough on everybody. Me, having three kids of my own, I can't imagine what they're going through," says driver Kevin Kennedy.
"During my time as traffic sergeant, I have personally been to two fatality crashes at this intersection, both of them were as a result of failure to yield while turning left. Growth along Georgia Highway 316 has increased the amount of traffic, and along with it, the number of problems," adds Sgt. Witte.
"I drive the corridor every day to work and there's several places where traffic backs up. You see a lot of close calls, on top of accidents," says Kennedy.
"Traffic backs up so bad here, and they get impatient and impatience hurts," Sgt. Witte adds.
Sgt. Witte says on average, the two man traffic unit makes about 100 stops a month along Georgia Highway 316, for things like speeding, running red lights, following too closely, and DUI. "We're out here as much as we can be. With the increase in vehicles, comes the increase in calls," Sgt. Witte says.
"This is just a busy corridor and Georgia Highway 316, when they built it, they didn’t think about as how much traffic would be on the road," Kennedy explains.
After federal funding cuts, the Georgia DOT says a construction project to rebuild the interchange is back on track, and set to be bid out in May. "Oh, I think it would help tremendously," Kennedy says.
"If you're traveling Georgia Highway 316, please just slow down. Have some patience. The DOT is working on it. We are out here, trying to enforce traffic laws," explains Sgt. Witte. "We're not out here just trying to write tickets, we're not generating revenue, like a lot of people believe. We're trying to write tickets, pull cars over, to save a life."
The Georgia DOT plan is to make Loganville Highway an overpass, similar to the ones at Collins Hill Road and Georgia Highway 20 in Gwinnett County. Sgt. Witte says they are still investigating the fatal crash at the intersection and charges are still pending.