Public records and a recent traffic study show the problems at the Blue Jay Rd/McCall Rd intersection stem from delay and neglect by Effingham County.
Years of Problems
The intersection, along with other stretches of Blue Jay Road, has claimed a spot on GDOT’s priority list since at least 2008.
From the 2008 report:
“[Blue Jay] Road is a primary E-W connector and should be upgraded to have better functionality. It can be initially widened by providing a center turning lane or otherwise adding occasional left and right turn bays in necessary places. Long-term, a four-lane road may be called for but is not currently justified by travel demand model volume projections…
McCall Road is a fairly high traffic volume road with a number of residences, schools, and nearby recreational and commercial destinations…McCall road has higher vehicular crash rate than other roads of identical functional class and the addition of wide shoulders and sidewalks can potentially help to make the road safer via mode substitution for short and mid-length trips.”
When Commissioners approved the changes to the intersection and construction began in 2021, the redesign was a response to the number of fatal accidents in the area. Also a factor was the volume and capacity. WJCL quoted County Manager Tim Callanan saying the previous design had traffic backed up in both directions. “We think this is going to really resolve most of that.”
But the re-design itself was based on data from 2017 – more than four years prior. Since that time, traffic volume increased exponentially. Essentially, construction of the intersection began based on findings that had become irrelevant. When the intersection re-opened, the data would corroborate that.
An Increase in Collisions at Blue Jay Rd/McCall Rd Intersection
Effingham County procured a contract to conduct a traffic study after the apparent increase of crashes at the intersection of Blue Jay Road and McCall Road following the completion of construction in 2022.
Currently, the intersection operates as a ‘Side-Street Stop Control (SSSC).’ One road comes to a complete stop at the intersection of another, on which traffic travels in two directions and does not stop.
According to information obtained by TheGeorgiaVirtue through an Open Records Request, from March 2021 to the opening of the intersection in January 2021, the intersection recorded a total of 21 crashes.
From January 10, 2021 to March 18, 2021, (a 68-day period) the intersection recorded 20 crashes.
2022 Traffic Study on Blue Jay Rd/McCall Rd Intersection
Maldino & Wilburn out of Newnan, GA completed the traffic study following a site visit by an engineer in early March.
Intersections score on a ‘level of service’ scale of A through F, with A being the optimal score and F being the poorest ranking. The rankings consider the delay per vehicle and capacity.
The findings of the report also include:
- the left turn movement from the east leg of Blue Jay Road to the south leg of Blue Jay Road operates with a poor level of service (LOS) F during the AM Peak Hour and the second poorest level of service during the PM Peak Hour
- drivers had uncertainty about which vehicle had the right of way. This involved the southbound left turn movement and the northbound right turn movement.
- intersection sight distance, for the drivers at the stop line, was obscured by right turning vehicles, but the study noted “This issue is typically at many intersections and in itself is not cause for concern.”
- 9 crashes involved northbound through vehicles striking southbound left turning vehicles.
- The 85th percentile speeds observed at the intersection were 52 MPH northbound, 54 MPH southbound, and 39 MPH westbound. (measured approximately 1,000 feet in advance of the intersection)
- As of mid-March 2022, Commissioners reduced the speed limit to 45 mph by an emergency ordinance approved during the March 15 meeting
Based on the poor level of service from the side street and because the side street left hand volume is higher than the traffic on the mainline, the study evaluated potential operation if traffic stopped in all directions.
Options include a three-way stop with stop signs or with a traffic signal.
‘All-Way Stop Control (AWSC) or Make the intersection a 3-way stop:
Doing so would increase the level of service to C.
Traffic Signal Control:
- Will provide improved operation on every approach, especially westbound.
- Overall delay will decrease by 17.4 seconds/vehicle during the AM Peak Hour and 8 seconds/vehicle during the PM Peak Hour.
This would increase the level of service to B.
Both would be permissible under federal guidelines based on vehicle volume, peak hours, and crash experiences. The analysis of those factors also yielded results that the intersection warrants an all-way stop configuration.
The engineer also evaluated widening the southeast corner of the intersection.
- This would separate the right turn on the south leg from the through lane and eliminate the sight distance obstruction caused by right turning vehicles blocking the view of oncoming traffic for vehicles stopped at the stop line.
- This would also eliminate the confusion that drivers currently have regarding which vehicle has the right of way when a southbound left turner and a northbound right turner arrive simultaneously. The improvement would also increase the receiving lane width for the southbound to eastbound left turn, thereby increasing capacity.
Recommendations of the Engineer
- change the speed limit incrementally to 45 MPH and 35 MPH on the northbound and southbound approaches to the intersection.
- Develop traffic signal plans for the intersection as soon as possible
- Procure traffic signal installations while evaluating the intersection under all-way stop-control
- Consider improving the right turn lane along Blue Jay Road eastbound.
- The traffic engineer addressed suggestions of reopening the old section of McCall Road
- “This is not recommended. The only benefit of reopening this road would be that westbound traffic on Blue Jay Road that desires to go north could bypass the queues on Blue Jay Road. After the recommended changes, the queues are expected to be substantially reduced.”
Please be patient. The PDF is 91 pages and may be slow to load.