Deputies speak out after $500k grant from Plant Vogtle for traffic safety

Thursday, October 31, 2019
News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7

BURKE COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- News 12 heard from Burke County deputies after Plant Vogtle gave them a half-million-dollar grant for traffic safety. This comes after several fatal accidents.

Deputies had a meeting with Plant Vogtle executives last week to discuss how they could improve safety on busy roadways near the plant like the intersection at River Road and Hancock Landing.

Money came up in the conversation but deputies told News 12 they didn't know it would happen just a week later.

This is a problem that has taken the lives of eight people in the past three years. In fact, half of the fatal car accidents in Burke County this year have happened right near Plant Vogtle. Chief Lewis Blanchard says enough is enough and this donation will help.

“You have a 2 lane road, with several thousand cars, twice a day. So for a two hour time period, that's when your problem is,” said Blanchard. “One of the things we've looked at would be the digital speed limit signs. So instead of just showing the speed limit's 55, it would show the speed limit's 55 plus your speed is.”

Chief Blanchard says adding more deputies can only do so much if drivers don't change their behavior.

“Our 3 biggest issues are: number 1 is speed. No question about it. Doesn't matter what anybody says. The number one contributing factor of all crashes in that area is speed. Number 2 is following too closely and number 3 is distracted driving,” said Blanchard.

On Plant Vogtle's end, they're bumping up education about safe driving too.

“It happens in meetings on the site, there can be briefings where people focus on safe driving,” said Adrienne Tickle, a Georgia Power spokesperson.

The sheriff's department also says they're talking to the county about trying to widen River Road and add safety mechanisms like rumble strips.