February 14, 2006
Two weeks after a deadly accident, the Olive Road overpass remains closed. News 12 is on your side to explain why some say it needs to be reopened and why others hope it stays closed for good.
“It’s gone beyond its life expectancy,” said Dennis Ellis.
It’s his job to review every traffic accident in Augusta. And Traffic Engineer Dennis Ellis says he knows better than anyone what needs to be done about the Olive Road overpass.
“It should be closed,” Ellis said.
Commissioner Marion Williams and Don Grantham say with nearly five thousand cars driving under it each day, permanently closing the road shouldn’t be an option.
“Some people live in the area and it’s hectic to be going all the way around Wrightsboro Road and the train holds us up,” said Lilly Sharpton.
“It’s a convenience, it is not a necessity. It is a convenience. It is a cut-through from Wrightsboro road to Milledgeville Road,” Ellis said.
The heightened concern comes after this month’s deadly accident. Pamela Brown drove a U-Haul truck under the bridge, but the truck was too tall. A metal beam was knocked to the ground, killing oncoming drive Isiah Lewis.
“I understand that it’s important, but people’s lives are important, too. They need to either do something or shut it down,” said Maggie Oglesby.
And though the road is closed for now, the same beam that fell and killed Isiah Lewis is back up on the bridge. But, many say if this road ever opens again, it’s another accident waiting to happen.
On Monday, commissioners brainstormed on ways to make the road safer. Some ideas included banning trucks, posting multiple stop signs before the bridge, and adding lights and sirens on the overpass. Mr. Ellis says its all been done before.
“We’ve gone outside the box, we’ve gone inside the box with what’s available as far as technology and nothing seems to work,” Ellis said.
Ellis says he’s given his input, but knows the fat of the overpass lies in the hands of the Augusta commission.
The commission is expected to make a final decision about the overpass next Tuesday.