Traffic engineering weighing options for Olive Road overpass, Uhaul driver at fault

Tuesday, August 20, 2019
News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The Olive Road overpass is closed for two weeks as traffic engineers take a hard look to figure out what's next.

There have been 7 accidents there already this year. During the last crash, it took a hard hit, damaging the bridge and track alignment. They had to close down the road for repairs. Traffic engineering is weighing their options on what they can do to stop this from happening again.

"I'm surprised that it still standing now," said Kenneth, who uses the Olive Road overpass.

Crash after crash is a story that the Olive Road overpass is familiar with. As big trucks realize they won't fit, a little too late.

"I have seen this overpass get hit maybe like 20 times," said Kenneth.

"How can they miss all the warning signs that we've already put up? To warn people that there's a low bridge ahead," said John Ussery, the assistant director of traffic for the engineering department.

The law requires engineering to put up two warning signs and they've gone beyond that.

Most recently, a Uhaul truck hit the overpass, damaging the top. That driver was found at fault for Failure to Obey A Traffic Control Device because a sign showed no large trucks with a height over 10 feet 5 inches.

"If you're coming from Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard towards this bridge, there are a total of 10 different warning devices between the signs and the flashers and the rumble strips," said Ussery.

That's only from one direction but John Ussery says after so many accidents, one of those deadly, his department has to weigh their options.

"We've been talking about it internally to maybe add a few more warning devices, but it comes to the point where there's an oversaturation of signs," said Ussery.

John says they've talked about speed bumps or flashing led signs. They've even talked about adding warning bars as you would see in a parking garage.

"You would see that and you would even maybe strike it but it would be flexible enough where you wouldn't damage your vehicle," said Ussery.

Of course, another option he says is closing it down permanently. Kenneth says that would add 15 minutes to his work commute.

"Wow. Permanently closing that, that would be a big ruckus here in Augusta because you got so many people coming from MCG, Saint Joseph's Hospital and using this route here," said Kenneth.

He says closing it down permanently is the last resort because the detours around this overpass take a while to get around. But safety is their main concern so if that's what it takes they'll do it.
Again this overpass is only 10 and a half feet high, so if you're in a big moving truck, or definitely a semi-truck, you're not going to fit.