News 12 at 11 o'clock / Sunday, March 7, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- "Thousands and thousands," said Lt. Mike D'Amico, referring to the cars that will flood Washington Road this week while The Masters is in town.
With more cars, that means more deputies are out to help with traffic flow.
"Traffic on Washington Road and the surrounding areas increases exponentially. The amount of traffic is just unbelievable. We have 30 to 40 officers out there any given time, dedicated just for the traffic alone," D'Amico said.
While most locals look for ways to avoid the Washington Road gridlock, one man is excited to see the rush.
"I wish they were all pulling into my parking lot," said Somewhere in Augusta owner John Fiske.
Fiske has a front row seat to the traffic along Washington Road.
"It goes from about 25,000 cars a day past our restaurant to now 60,000 cars," he said.
With that many more people on the road, getting drivers in and out is quite the task, requiring planning, teamwork and even some help from the sky.
"In addition to the local agencies, the State Patrol on regular occasion brings their helicopter into see traffic from the air. Gives them a different perspective on where traffic might be backing up," D'Amico said.
D'Amico says, if all else fails, drivers should just follow the signs.
"We ask folks follow the signs that are posted to get them to the interstate even though their GPS may tell them they're going the wrong direction. If everyone tried to go the most direct route to the interstate, traffic would never thin out," he said.
When things do get backed up, engineers are standing by to change a red light to a green one.
"They can change the cycling of the lights remotely from the high school if they see Washington Road or Berckmans Road need a little bit more coverage," D'Amico said.
Traffic engineers use Westside High School off Washington Road as their headquarters while the kids are on Spring Break. They monitor the traffic from there.
D'Amico says the city has come a long way from the days where deputies flagged this traffic by hand.