The Georgia Department of Transportation has notified our offices that a significant intersection change is planned for Highway 16 East at the intersection of Higgins Road this week. Responding to concerns raised by local officials about traffic safety at this intersection, which has seen a noticeable increase in traffic accidents over the past year, the Georgia DOT Office in Thomaston plans to convert this intersection to a four-way or “all stop” intersection and plans to have this change completed by August 1st, weather permitting. This change will require vehicles traveling these roads to come to a complete stop at the intersection from any direction.

County officials designated this intersection as the “highest priority” concerning the need for improvements in November of 2015. The Butts County Transportation Board also concurred with this assessment and a letter in support of an improvement project was sent to DOT at that time. Since then, District 2 Commissioner Robert Henderson, County Administrator Keith Moffett and Government Relations Director Michael Brewer have been in frequent contact with officials at GDOT about what could be done to make the interchange safer. State Representative Susan Holmes and Senator Burt Jones have also expressed concerns to the state about the need to slow down or stop traffic traveling east and west on Highway 16 due to cars frequently pulling out in front of oncoming traffic from Higgins Road. Following a review of the intersection, including traffic counts and verified incidents that have occurred there, state officials agreed this week to make the changes as soon as possible.

“The initial plan given to us by GDOT is to make this a four-way stop intersection” said Michael Brewer on Wednesday. “This is a short-term fix to the problem that should immediately remedy the concerns until they are able to program a more permanent solution in the future, which according to the State will likely will be a roundabout-type intersection. The County is very appreciative of the assistance from Representative Holmes and Senator Jones, and to GDOT for working towards a solution to make this interchange safer”.

GDOT put out warning signs immediately to caution drivers that the change is coming on Monday, August 1st and should have new intersection stop signs installed sometime that day, weather permitting.