For anyone driving through Richmond Hill, it’s hard not to notice the road work taking place at the intersection of highways 17 and 144.
The Georgia Department of Transportation is in the process of creating an extra left-turn lane from 17 onto 144 in both directions. They are doing this within the existing roadway by reducing the concrete medians and relining the intersection. The majority of the work is being done at night, and there’s been little — if any — interruption to the flow of traffic during peak travel times.
The turn lanes, once completed, will undoubtedly ease some of the congestion at the crossroads and are sure to be a welcome addition to any Richmond Hill resident who comes in to town along the Coastal Highway during rush hour.
But those new left-turn lanes are not the only areas where the city’s busiest intersection has room for improvement — and city officials aren’t wasting any time in hopefully addressing the next weak link in the commuter chain. While work on Highway 17 continues, city engineers are already investigating the possibilities for alleviating the morning backup on 144 heading out of town.
While westbound traffic in the far right lane of 144 has always backed up to some degree, it is much worse this year than in the recent past with cars lining the highway from around 7:30-8:45 a.m., give or take, all the way to City Hall and on occasion beyond the railroad tracks. Who wants to start their day like that? No one.
Luckily, city officials know this and are hoping to do something about it. According to Jeff Whitten’s article on the front page, the city’s engineering firm is hoping to present a feasibility study for a dedicated right-turn lane in the coming weeks to the state transportation department. It’s the earliest of stages in the long road to a back-up free commute, but it’s a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.