Traffic is a nightmare during Back to School week, but Columbia County is a whole different story

Tuesday, August 6, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

This summer, our I-Team compiled information for each public school in our area's three largest counties -- 130 schools in all. (Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Traffic is a nightmare the first week of school, but it’s a whole different ballgame in Columbia County.

The county has created a traffic action plan because it gets so bad at drop off and pick up.

County officials say if you're not dropping your kids off at school, avoid school zones -- period. If you are, be patient.

But traffic engineers are trying to help. They're watching you through cameras and for the next two weeks they'll be monitoring the signals.

Even Jaycee Dalzell knows the drill.

“I get my mom to drive me,” Jaycee said.

It might be easy for Jaycee, but for her mom, Penny Dalzell, it’s a little bit more of a hassle.

“Leave early,” Penny said. “Doesn’t matter if you get there early, but at least you’re not late!”

Jaycee is going into 6th grade at Greenbrier Middle School, or as traffic engineering manager Randy Prickett would call it: the cluster.

"The cluster has a big effect and a lot of the clusters are in the neighborhoods like Riverwood off of Greenbrier, places like that,” Prickett said. “And we know that and we do have to work the signals in those areas."

For the next two weeks, Pickett and his team's eyes will be on the road.

"New houses were built, people moved in over the summer, so our plan is to monitor the different areas that have schools close to them, work signals as needed, then we'll put the plan together to actually change the signal time,” Pickett said.

The heaviest congestion is at Chamblin Road, William Few Parkway, Columbia Road, Lewiston Road and Hereford Farm Road, but he says one spot is the worst of all.

"Flowing Wells Road tends to back up on a normal day without construction,” Pickett said. "But add in this mess with a two-lane road during pick up and drop off times, and it's not going to be pretty."

Future construction on Lewiston Road and Evans to Locks will cause nightmares later this year.

But as for Wednesday, leave early and bring a cup of coffee because odds are, you'll need it.

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