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Commission hears request for Bartley Rd guardrail

Two citizens approached the Troup County Board of Commissioners last week to ask what could be done to make a curve on Bartley Road safer.

The couple, Riley and Jennifer Bowles, have been working with county staff to find a way to make a turn on Bartley Road safer for both drivers and the current residents of the homes on either side of the curve. They say that they have witnessed several accidents take place there.

“The curve, if you are coming from Whitesville is a little deceiving as to the sharpness of it,” Riley Bowles said. “A lot of people — I don’t know if they’re not paying attention. I don’t know if they’re speeding. I don’t know what the problem is, but they run off that shoulder right there and then overcorrect. They shoot across the road. There’s been several accidents where the cars and trucks end up across the street in the neighbor’s yard over there, and then while I was living there personally, we had one vehicle that ran off the road. Somehow, he jumped over my propane tank, landed in the side of my Tahoe and shoved it through my daughter’s bedroom.”

The couple requested that a guardrail be placed in the curve to protect drivers and residents. However, according to county staff, placing a guardrail at that location could risk more lives than it could save.

“We have pulled accident reports with the help of the state, and we’ve analyzed some of those accidents,” County Engineer James Emery said. “Those accidents included one with a medical condition that caused a blackout. One that was a DUI, and one that was deer related. All three of which caused vehicles to — for various reasons — veer off the road. Let’s talk about guardrails. Guardrails are intended to protect motor vehicles from roadside hazards, but they are also considered to be roadside hazards themselves. Therefore, they could be a liability, especially if they are installed without meeting the criteria where you would need to install them. They can increase the risk of overturning in an accident, and they can act as a protrusion. They have acted as a protrusion that has resulted in deaths in many cases when there is an accident involving a guardrail.”

According to Emery, the Roads and Engineering Department put up button reflectors and cleared roadside vegetation to increase visibility on the curve.

He suggested that Bowles erect a barrier on his property between the home and traffic. He said that the curve did not meet international road standards for erecting a guardrail based on the curve and slope of the road, but he also said that he hoped to find a solution that would keep the most people safe.

“We’ve worked with them for several years now,” Emery said. “March of ’14 is when we first started working with the Bowles on this issue, and being parents ourselves, we can absolutely understand the impact that it would have on parents to see a vehicle crashed into your house when you’ve got small children at home, and just to protect your own life as well.  It is something that we took very seriously, and we’ve done everything that we can, we think to do everything that we can in service to them.”

While the Bowles family no longer lives in the home, they said that they were renting out the property to friends with young children, so they still wanted the safety of that turn to be given careful consideration.

Commissioners Morris Jones and Lewis Davis requested that the county look into more signs or larger signs on the curve to better warn citizens, and the commission requested that county staff continue to look at ways to make the curve safer.

Due to liability concerns regarding possible deaths that could occur due to an unwarranted guardrail, the solution for a safer curve will likely involve other options.

“I’d like the engineers to exhaust every possible (option on) what could be done to assist them in a manner where the county would not be liable,” Commissioner Ellis Cadenhead said.

The Troup County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet again on Feb. 20 at 9 a.m. at 100 Ridley Ave.