By Valerie Baldowski
Henry County is sharing in more than $878,000 the Georgia Department of Transportation is spending in 31 counties to improve traffic signals, and promote safety, at specific intersections.
In the City of McDonough, officials are also taking aim at signalization.
According to Kimberly Larson, a state Department of Transportation district communications officer, her agency is replacing incandescent signals with those outfitted with light-emitting diodes (LED).
Larson said the newer, more efficient traffic signals at the Ga. Highway 20/81 and Willow Lane intersection location will help save lives.
The signalization work at Ga. 20/81 and Willow Lane is similar to traffic signal upgrades done at intersections in a number of other counties, Larson said.
"The main advantage is that they [the new lights] are brighter, and you can see them from a distance in good and inclement weather," Larson said. "They are a lot safer than the old lights.
"They had the old incandescent lights," Larson added. "We upgraded them to the new LED lights. They're bright, and last longer."
Larson said the new pedestrian crosswalk signals have a "loop" which senses traffic volume on the streets at the intersection.
"It knows when a car pulls up, and times the light so that it will switch over and let the traffic on the side streets out," Larson said.
The older crosswalk lights had a simple timing device, she said.
The Georgia Department of Transportation is using R.J. Haynie & Associates, Inc., of Lake City to install signals in all 31 counties.
The work in Henry is completed. The contract is scheduled to end on May 31, for the remaining counties, according to Brandon Oravetz, project manager for R.J. Haynie & Associates.
Unrelated to the state's effort, the City of McDonough has spent $120,957 on a new traffic light at Regency Park Drive and Ga. 20/81.
The light was hung to ease traffic congestion through the area, said Erica Fatima, deputy press secretary for the Georgia Department of Transportation. She said an evaluation of the location by the state was conducted and the results revealed a need for the light. It has been operational since March 31.
Meanwhile, on Monday, the Henry County Board of Commissioners received an overall update on county DOT projects.
Terry McMickle, the county's public works director, told the commission his department is working on the final design and utility relocation phase for improvements to the intersection of Fairview Road, Austin Road, and Swan Lake Road. The improvements will involve realigning Austin Road, and installing a traffic signal and turn lanes, county officials said.