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Getting road rage

Staff column

POSTED: June 10, 2017 6:30 p.m.
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Jeff Whitten is editor of the Bryan County News.

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Operating today under the principle that it’s easier to complain than offer solutions, I offer you this: Richmond Hill gives me road rage.

And in fairness, it isn’t exactly Richmond Hill’s fault, though I’m starting to wonder if there isn’t something to this "Henry Ford City" thing after all.

Ford, you may recall, invented the mass production of automobiles. There’s abundant evidence he succeeded probably more than he meant to.

Still, Richmond Hill didn’t create all this traffic you see going here and there and everywhere, it’s merely a beneficiary of decades of what some folks who take glamor shots like to call "growth."

In reality, that boom in mass suburbia in all its strip-mall glory stretches south from Rincon to Pooler to South Bryan, and it has turned what was once a relatively laid-back spin into something approaching metro Atlanta-level stupidity, albeit on a more condensed scale.

In South Bryan alone there’s the mess on much of Highway 17 that prompted a buddy of mine to say, "they need to blow this place up immediately and start over" after about a 20-minute wait to get from the KOA campground to the southbound entrance ramp at I-95.

And there’s much of the length of Highway 144 in either direction once you’re off Fort Stewart. It doesn’t take long to get aggravating once you’re off the post, either, especially during rush hour. Or lunch. Or after school. Or before school. Or when anything is open.

Indeed, Highway 144 is such a fun headache we at the Bryan County News world headquarters recently ran a poll website asking folks which intersection they thought was the worst. The merry-go-roundabout down at the South Bryan Administration Building won hands down, followed by the "guess what the driver coming out of Publix will do" thrill ride at Port Royal Road.

Thankfully, help is on the way. They’ll widen 144 soon. Since I’ve heard that since 2006 it has to be true.

One day, they’ll also build that much-anticipated (by bankers and developers) third interchange on 95, which if built actually might relieve some congestion and end the miles of backed up cars on the interstate.

I suspect what it’ll really do is open up a whole other can of development worms, thus requiring yet another interchange, or turning 144 into a six-lane highway, also obsolete upon completion because by then everyone will be flying around in Jetson-mobiles. Lexuses or Range Rovers of course.

This is South Bryan, after all.

I wish I was smart like all these engineers and planners and bureaucrats at the Georgia DOT and elsewhere who can tell you how they’ll solve the problem. I have no idea, other than maybe blowing up the bridge on I-95 over the Savannah River and putting some brakes on the constant flow of folks into the Coastal Empire. So far that’s not legal.

I’ve even heard it said by some that there is (of course) no problem now, but we need to start working on infrastructure now before it becomes a problem. That one makes me smile.

But not for long. Especially if I’m driving.

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