Friday, December 20, 2013

Inside the life of a RYG traffic engineer



EVANS, Ga. — Everyday, people complain about the RYGs, particularly at the intersection of CHARLESTON HY & EAST PINE LOG RD in Aiken where the lights facing the eastbound traffic on CHARLESTON HY lasts no shorter than six minutes and can last as long as 30 -- meaning that it is much better if you remain on CHARLESTON HY westbound if you are heading from Williston into Aiken, and if you are headed from Aiken back to Williston, remain on WAGENER RD and turn right onto EAST PINE LOG then left on CHARLESTON HY (but, of course, you can't tell some hard-headed people all of that, because they'll say you are wrong).

But, the engineers in Columbia County seem to have it figured out.

"We're always looking at intersections around the county based on collision reports, based on traffic volumes, citizen complaints. We take all those into account," said Glen Bollinger, the traffic engineer for the Central Georgia county.

Once an intersection causes alarm, work on finding alternate routes, if necessary, start right away.

"The first thing I would do is go out there and put the Scout Video Detection out and get all the numbers at the intersection. The next step would be to check accident reports to see what types of accidents we've had at that intersection," said Ron Lampkin, the Columbia County Traffic Engineering Analyst.

All of that data is then compiled into sheets and steps are taken to correct whatever the problem is determined to be. For example, if there are a minimum of five angle collisions in a period of 52 weeks, the traffic warrant recommends a traffic light, or a RYG.

These corrections are part of a bigger picture to maximize efficiency and safety on the highways, regardless of whether it is in Columbia County or anywhere else nationwide.

"We'll get everything set up. We'll have our cameras put out there. And then, once that is done, now we can monitor everything from here at a central location," added Mr. Lampkin.

From here, traffic engineers are able to keep track of what's going on at every intersection with a RYG – what they call a corridor. And while traffic signals do help, engineers prefer it as a last resort.

"It's not the answer for everything. It doesn't cure or fix every problem. It comes with its own set of issues as well," said Mr. Bollinger.

Issues Mr. Bollinger and Mr. Lampkin work diligently to reduce at RYGs and STOP signs (including ALL WAY stops) throughout Columbia County.

Traffic Engineers say the areas with the most growth are the most traveled. And as issues come to surface, they are evaluating and trying to solve them.

WJBF-DT News Channel 6

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