Police work to relieve holiday traffic congestion

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December 15, 2006

'Tis the season traffic is moving at a snail's pace...especially around shopping centers.

Police are working to relieve congestion. That's been the goal ever since Thanksgiving, and it will continue to be the goal until the day after Christmas.

Park in front of any shopping center, like Augusta's mall, and you'll see drivers aren't so giving.

"You got to kind of expect it," said one driver we spoke with. "It's the holiday season, you know?"

For Sgt. J.R. Compton of road patrol, it's another year of stacking the schedule.

"The hours have increased," he said.

Since Thanksgiving, the sheriff's office has devoted anywhere from two to six deputies to patrol each entrance and exit to the mall.

"You do get the occasional fender bender there," Sgt. Compton said.

From Marks Church Road to Bobby Jones Expressway, a deputy can manually control the traffic lights.

"They plug in a jack to the lights, and they have a plunger, and it will cause the lights to cycle," Sgt. Compton explained.

The most common mistake drivers make is blocking intersections.

We saw a white SUV sitting in the intersection waiting to turn.

That's illegal...and moves like those don't sit well with others who are sitting, waiting, and not moving.

"Takes you 25 minutes to get from the corner up to Augusta West Parkway," said one driver.

Some turn on the tunes.

Others try to beat the traffic before it begins.

"I was hoping people were still at work, because I got off a little early, and trying to beat the crowd just a little bit on Friday," one driver said.

Sgt. Compton suggests more people try that: get up early and stay stress-free.

"Be patient," he said. "Everybody's trying to accomplish the same goal."

Of course, the length of these lines is different depending on the time of day. The morning rush hour, the lunch hour, and the dinner hour are the times you want to avoid.

The traffic lights are re-programmed during the holidays for this very season.

Sgt. Compton gives traffic engineers a lot of credit for what they do. He says they've done wonders with the timing of the lights.