We have to do something about Ga. 316. If you've ever driven on the road then you've probably experienced one of the following situations:
· If you're on the Lawrenceville side, you're sitting in heavy traffic wondering why in the world such a heavily traveled road would have a $%!@#$ red light instead of an overpass at one of the county's busiest intersections.
· If you're outside of Lawrenceville, it's more likely this: You're traveling along like you're in the draft at Daytona, trying not to get run over. You're approaching an intersection. Suddenly, the light turns yellow. Which of these is most likely? A) Drivers respect the light and slow at a safe rate, coming to a gentle halt as the light turns red; B) Some people run the light, and some slam on the brakes and screech to a halt; C) Some initially hit the brakes, then decide they can make it and speed back up, while others hit the brakes, then speed back up thinking they can make it, realize they can't and slam on the brakes anyway; D) all of the above.
The answer, of course, is D.
I don't know about you, but I'm tired of all the stuff in my front seat winding up in the floorboard three times a week when I try to stop for a light that turns yellow at the exact moment when I am the precise distance from it where it is impossible to determine whether the safe choice is to go through it to keep from getting rear-ended or stop.
I'm also tired of these things:
· People who come out of one of 316's numerous side roads and decide at the last possible second, that yes, they can get their old Vega with bald tires, 700,000 miles on the odometer and one good cylinder left in the engine to attain the speed necessary to get across before 14 SUVs, two sports cars and three tractor-trailers traveling at the speed of sound can run them down.
· People who do the same thing at major intersections after their light has turned red.
· People who stomp on the brakes with both feet a half a mile from the U.S. 29 intersection when the light turns yellow because they're afraid of getting a $70 ticket from a computer.
· People who could care less about the red light camera and run it anyway.
· College kids coming home from UGA in their parents' BMWs who think the aforementioned tractor-trailers are going too slow.
· College kids in their own 1992 Toyota Tercel who are afraid to get above 45 and never learned the rule that the left lane is for faster traffic. I'd like to replace a few of those kids' Greenpeace and NORML bumper stickers with one of those that says "Lead, follow or get out of the way."
Now I'll admit, a couple of those are more pet peeves against drivers than against the road. But the point is, the way the road is now lends itself to more situations where these idiots are given more opportunities to cause trouble.
So like I said, we have to do something, and we have to do it now. We can't wait around another 10 or 15 years for the state to do it. And the only thing to do - and I can't believe I'm saying this - is to levy a tax.
There it is. I said it and I meant it. Levy a tax and fix the road.
The Parkway Group had an aggressive plan for improving the road four years ago, but no one is going to pay a toll with $4 a gallon gas.
But people will pay another penny on every dollar and barely notice it. I'd wager most of them would do it happily if they drive 316 every day.
Bump the sales tax a penny in each county the road goes through and I bet you'd have your funding fairly quickly. I know you would in Gwinnett. I mean if the county has $19 million in the emergency fund - the county's equivalent of a Mason jar buried in the back yard - to make sure the G-Braves' stadium is pretty enough, then certainly Gwinnett, Barrow, Oconee and Clarke counties together could raise enough money to make Ga. 316 what it needs to be and should have been in the first place - a wider, limited access interstate highway.
With no $%!@#$ red lights.
Now then, I came up with the idea. Somebody in charge get it done.
E-mail Nate McCullough at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Fridays.