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Barrow mulls Ga. 211 improvement

WINDER -- Often-discussed creation of a left turn lane at the treacherous intersection of Ga. Highway 211 and Barrow Park Drive in Barrow County soon might become reality.

Barrow County Engineering Manager Darrell Greeson presented to the Barrow County Commission on Tuesday night his recently developed design for the turn lane, the need for which again came sharply into focus after two motorists recently were injured there in an eight-day span.

As motorists stop to turn left to the county's new courthouse from two-lane Ga. 211, drivers following on the 55 mph downhill grade have experienced difficulty stopping. Most recently, an employee of the Barrow County Magistrate's office reportedly was hurt when struck by an 18-wheeler while turning left to the courthouse. Days earlier, another county employee was injured as he stopped to turn left in his county truck.

The most recent accident occurred one day after the Georgia Department of Transportation erected large signs on the shoulder of the busy highway, cautioning drivers leaving Winder to watch for vehicles ahead of them attempting the turn.

Greeson's design, which he expects to present to GDOT on Thursday, creates a 660-foot approach taper from the south a 200-foot turn lane. Ultimately, the road would be widened 14 feet and the south-bound lane offset.

Greeson said the design was made challenging by a drop-off bordering the east side of Ga. 211 and the entrance to the Moose Lodge at 434 Ga. Highway 211 on the west. He said modification of the intersection, which he approximated will cost between $90,000 and $130,000, could begin immediately following DOT approval in a few weeks and be completed by winter.

Commissioner Isaiah Berry, long outspoken about the need for the turn lane, said he has written letters to GDOT and is glad the modification appears near. He regrets, however, that two motorists had to be injured to make that so.

"We're heading in the right direction," said Berry, who once publicly said he'd resign as commissioner if a child were killed there. "This should have been done a long time ago, but better late than never."