A Richmond Hill resident speaking out last week against a proposed Family Dollar store cited increased traffic as a concern and noted that trying to get across Highway 17 from Mulberry subdivision can be “like playing Frogger,” but far more dangerous.
That’s a good analogy.
You may recall the game, which was popular in the 1980s and again in the 1990s. If not, Frogger involved players trying to move a frog across both a busy road and a river full of fast moving logs without getting hit. Trade in a joystick for a steering wheel and it does tend to remind one of trying to navigate traffic around Richmond Hill, especially at busy times.
It’s not hard to see why.
There’s simply too much traffic trying to go in too many different directions in too limited a space. The worst traffic hazards remain concentrated around two intersections — at Highways 144 and 17 and Highway 17 near I-95. But there are also scary spots down at Belfast Keller and 144, and at Timber Trail and 144.
While they may appear to be problems that a good traffic light would fix, in truth any solution isn’t so simple. Both Highway 17 and Highway 144 are state roads, so fixes are going to have to come from the Georgia Department of Transportation. But don’t hold your breath.
To be blunt, the DOT is so far behind right now on road improvements it could take years to get to this issue. But this summer voters will have the chance to vote on the new regional T-SPOST tax that, if passed, could help with future road improvement.
In that regard, there is interest among local leaders in an I-95 interchange to help spur growth off Belfast Siding road, another possible solution to the traffic problem.
We should also continue efforts at the state level. Continuing to press state officials to look into ways to help alleviate the city’s growing traffic problem is important, even if it doesn’t pay off in the near term. It’s also a must for business and government leaders to realize that snarled traffic and daily near misses are bad for business. After all, at what point will people who are considering making a purchase or moving to Richmond Hill begin to see the traffic as a reason to move elsewhere?
Of course most high-growth communities have their share of traffic issues, especially in today’s tight budget environment, but if Richmond Hill is to continue to grow and improve its quality of life, we certainly need solutions to the traffic problem.