An average of nine accidents a year have taken place at the entrance to The Avenue since 2009, including a fatality on May 15. Another fatal accident took place at the Dallas Highway intersection with Old Hamilton/Casteel roads in 2011, with a third fatal accident taking place that year at the Dallas Highway/West Sandtown Road intersection a half mile to the east.
According to Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee, there is not enough distance for drivers on Dallas Highway who are turning into the Avenue mall to see oncoming eastbound traffic on the highway. And a similar condition exists at the Dallas Highway/Old Hamilton/Casteel intersection near the western entrance to the mall.
The county now has changed the two traffic lights so that as of last week, westbound drivers turning left are only able to do so when eastbound traffic has come to a full stop.
“Like any issue like that, it will increase congestion, but the improved safety outweighed the increased congestion that may occur at that intersection,” Lee said.
The cost to taxpayers is about $5,000 per intersection — a pittance, especially when one considers the potential savings in lives and property damage.
Other changes are afoot as well.
The state Department of Transportation is planning to extend the left-turn lanes at The Avenue, which will create more “storage” space for cars waiting to make that turn.
And the county is hoping to persuade the state to approve a similar alteration to the traffic light at the Dallas Highway/Bob Cox Road intersection, where eastbound travelers hoping to turn onto Bob Cox must also contend with short sight-lines caused by a hill.
Equally important, the county wants to lower the speed limit to 45 mph from 55.
“We believe a lower speed limit will give drivers more time to see and react to other cars in the area in order to avoid collisions,” county spokesman Bob Quigley said.
The county cannot make such changes unilaterally, because Dallas Highway is a state road (S.R. 120).
Those changes are overdue, but none the less are welcome. As noted above, they should go far to reduce the carnage to life and property on one of Cobb’s busiest roads.