Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon wants to eliminate fatal crashes by 2040. Here’s the first step toward that goal.

Grant Blankenship | GPB News
Mika Shills crosses Spring Street in Macon with the red light going her way by about 20 yards from the crosswalk a few hours after another pedestrian was hit and killed near the same spot. Shills is careful about crossing Macon roadways on foot but says nowhere is really safe to do it. “They’ll speed up and try to hit you out here,” she said.

Macon-Bibb County is in the process of finalizing a draft job description for its future transportation safety manager, a role county officials have discussed a need for in public meetings over the past three years.

The new position stems from the Vision Zero Action Plan county commissioners adopted in late 2020. Creating that role was identified as a short-term, medium-cost goal.

Vision Zero, a transportation safety strategy that originated in Sweden in the ‘90s, aims to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries among all road users. The Federal Highway Administration helped Macon-Bibb County finalize a plan that aims to “eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries” here by 2040.

A draft of the job description, based on a similar role in Savannah, was provided to Pedestrian Safety Review Board members at its regular monthly meeting Tuesday. In addition to acting as a sort of liaison for the county with the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, the job description states the position also will be responsible for duties including analyzing crash data to identify dangerous intersections, developing long and short-range transportation safety plans and applying for grants to support safety programming.

Pedestrian Safety Review board members were instructed to provide feedback on the draft job description via email. The Macon-Bibb County Commission will approve the final version.

Macon-Bibb County Assistant Attorney Adrianna Beavers told The Macon Newsroom after last month’s meeting that the county estimates the new position, related programming and deliverables will cost $300,000 to fund for three years. The salary range has not yet been established.

The county had hoped to split the cost of the job with GDOT. It hired consultant Bob Dallas, who is a lawyer and former director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, to negotiate joint funding, but Beavers said that effort “stagnated,” prompting the county to bring the transportation safety manager role in-house.

The new job is among other changes to the county’s organizational chart slated for approval in the coming months.

Pedestrian Hotspots Update

Peachtree Recovery Services was contracted to identify the most dangerous areas for pedestrians and make recommendations for how those places could be made safer. The board received the report in May.

Nigel Floyd, traffic engineer for the county, provided an update on the five pedestrian safety hotspots identified in the report.

Hotspots in the report included: Mercer University (Ga. 74) near Columbus Road and Anthony Road; Ell Street and U.S. 41; Vineville Avenue, between Lamar Street and Ward Street; Plum Street Lane and Second Street; Riverside Drive and Spring Street.

The company used data from 301 pedestrian-involved crashes in Bibb County 2019-2022 to identify dangerous areas for people on foot. Fifty of those crashes resulted in pedestrian deaths, 244 resulted in injuries and the outcome of seven is unknown, according to the company’s report.

Several board members at the May meeting said they wanted a company representative to attend a board meeting to present additional details about the findings and take questions from board members. A representative from the company traveled from Suwanee to Macon for the meeting in June, but too few members of the board were present so a quorum could not be established.

On Tuesday, Floyd presented the company’s list of recommendations and the county’s responses to each of them. Several of the recommendations were for safety improvements the county and/or Georgia Department of Transportation already planned to make, Floyd said.

For example, the Peachtree Recovery Services report calls for crosswalks to be repainted at the intersection of Riverside Drive and Spring Street, but Floyd reported the state is already working on a complete redesign there including new traffic signals and new lane configurations. The state also plans to repaint crosswalks on Mercer University Drive near Edna Place and Oglesby Place as a result of a road safety audit it did in partnership with the county.

Also Tuesday, the board discussed a request from the Macon Housing Authority to install speed bumps at three of its affordable housing developments including Davis, Mounts and Murphey villages.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Floyd said. “The housing authority is proposing to pay for all this, so this is not something that needs to come out of the county’s budget.”

Near the end of Tuesday’s meeting, a Mercer law student who is interning with the county’s legal department asked the board to consider placing a crosswalk on Georgia Avenue between the law school and Barristers Hall Apartments.

Floyd said the county could do it, but “the hiccup is Georgia Avenue is a state route. We would have to send the recommendation up to GDOT district 3 (and) they’ll send it up to Atlanta.”

The board voted unanimously to endorse the request. It was unclear who would ensure the request made it to the state department of transportation.

To contact Civic Journalism Fellow Laura Corley, call 478-301-5777 or email [email protected].

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