441 and Meriwether/Corral roads intersection in the middle of a DOT makeover
Based on the slope of the hill, as well as the speeds that motorists build coming down the hill, the intersection of US 441 and Meriwether/Corral roads ranks relatively high in terms of dicey intersections around Baldwin County.
Already this month, there has been a serious accident at the intersection, complete with an air evac helicopter and multiple injuries.
The Georgia Department of Transportation already has taken some safety measures. A DOT maintenance team last winter "removed vegetation to the Corral side right-of-way line, side trimmed the tree line and planted permanent grass on slopes," according to Kyle Collins, a DOT communications & marketing strategist.
Now, the plan is to replace the current set of red lights with "new signal heads with backplates (retroreflective borders)," added Collins. According to the Federal Highway Administration, backplates added to a traffic signal head improve the visibility of the illuminated face of the signal by introducing a controlled-contrast background. Signal heads that have backplates equipped with retroreflective borders are more visible and conspicuous in both daytime and nighttime conditions.
County manager Carlos Tobar said that he and County Commissioner Johnny Westmoreland have "received quite a few calls about that intersection in recent years."
"The primary issue is traffic that's coming down the hilll. GDOT decided that these big rigs and out-0f-town traffic are having a hard time recognizing the traffic signal," Tobar. "We sent GDOT our concerns, and they came back with what I think is a great package."
The new traffic lights are structurally heavier, and they can't be supported by cross wires. DOT plans to hang the new traffic lights from "metal arms," similar to the ones in downtown Milledgeville (see below). The idea is that this also will help out with out-of-town traffic recognizing the intersection.