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Accident-laden area gets $1.4 million makeover

Photo by Johnny Jackson 
The new intersection at Lake Dow Road and Ga. Hwy. 81, which is under construction, splits the 800 block of Ga. Hwy. 81 East, in McDonough.

Photo by Johnny Jackson The new intersection at Lake Dow Road and Ga. Hwy. 81, which is under construction, splits the 800 block of Ga. Hwy. 81 East, in McDonough.

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

At long last, the old, angular intersection in McDonough -- Lake Dow Road at Ga. Highway 81 -- has been closed, and is being replaced.

The new intersection has been realigned in the 800 block of Ga. Hwy. 81, between the McDonald's and Zaxby's fast food restaurants, near downtown, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation's Revised Project Concept Report.

The previous intersection had Lake Dow Road intersecting with Ga. Hwy. 81 "at a skew of approximately 45 degrees," without turn lanes. The report noted that there were five accidents, resulting in two injuries, and one fatality, in 2004, and 15 crashes, resulting in five injuries in 2005.

It also revealed that the majority of crashes occurred on Hwy. 81, an east-west arterial where vehicles making left turns were rear-ended by through-moving vehicles on the highway.

Traffic volumes along Hwy. 81, near the intersection, grew from 12,500 Annual Average Daily Traffic counts (AADT) in 2000, to 18,500 in 2004, as shown in state transportation department data. The AADT count represents the estimated number of vehicles using the roadway on any given day of the year.

Volumes along Hwy. 81 have been projected to increase to 26,000 AADT in 2011, and to 54,700 by 2031. The data suggests that traffic on Lake Dow Road could reach 6,800 AADT in 2011, and 11,200 by 2031.

Discussions of the intersection improvements had been underway since 2007, said David Spear, press secretary for the Georgia Department of Transportation. Spear said the project was approved, and included in the Atlanta Regional Commission's Transportation Improvement Plan. He said construction is ongoing on the intersection-improvement project, which was bid out last May, with C.W. Matthews Contracting Co., Inc., of Marietta, making the low bid of $601,000.

"They began work in September, and are about 30 percent complete," said Spear, who added that the work is scheduled to be completed by next fall.

Henry County took care of the project's preliminary engineering, as well as the right-of-way acquisitions on six parcels of land, he added.

Rights of way for the intersection's realignment were acquired by Henry County several years ago, according Henry Commission Chairman Elizabeth 'B.J.' Mathis.

"The project includes a traffic signal," Mathis added.

The signal's installation is expected to cost $103,708, with additional funds designated for roadway construction, drainage, erosion control, and signs and markings, according to the state transportation department's project concept report. The total estimated cost, according to the report, will be $1.44 million.