Crosswalk median causes concern in Hiawassee

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Residents urged to “give it a minute” by Mayor Ordiales

Mayor Liz Ordiales

Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales

Mayor Liz Ordiales of Hiawassee is urging residents upset about the new medians at the crosswalk to “give it a minute” before forming an opinion.

“The intent was to prevent accidents,” Ordiales said in reference to the crosswalk at the Chatuge Regional Hospital. She said last year, a pedestrian was hit and injured crossing the street there. “The hospital has been asking for it for years.”

When the city council approved the crosswalk, they had to apply to the Georgia Department of Transportation since the road is a state road and any changes need to come through GDOT. The council pointed out that when they approved the cross walk, no median was involved.

“(GDOT) said they have to add a pedestrian refuge,” said one council member. A pedestrian refuge is a median.

“It’s their guidelines,” Ordials said. “I believe the purpose is if you are in a wheelchair or using a walker, you have enough time to get across without being in peril of getting hit.”


One council member received a text comment stating ambulances can’t turn left at the median due to space limits.

A new crosswalk at Chatuge General Hospital which will have a median is causing a stir among Hiawassee residents. The city council maintains the design came from GDOT and is required.

The council said the local GDOT representative has assured them they will address concerns on any issues.

Another issue they are hearing from in regards to the crosswalk is the cost. Ordiales said the project is about $80,000 in total, but the city is only on the hook for $10,000. The hospital is paying $10,000 and GDOT will cover $60,000.

“I believe the city should invest in the safety of the residents,” she said.

In the next few days, GDOT will be surveying traffic congestion and will possibly adjust the traffic light timing to help. They will also install an A-11 Thermal switch, allowing the EMA director to manually change the lights to flush the intersection if needed.

In other Hiawassee news, the city council:

  • Approved the adoption of the fluoride referendum results certification resolution.
  • Approved the appointment of Steven Harper to the Downtown Development Authority.
  • Approved submitting an application to GEFA to defer loan payments plus interest for up to six months if needed.
  • Approved spending $35,595 on a truck for the water department.
  • Approved using Technology International to build a kayak ramp at Lloyd’s Landing at a cost of $25,893. The money will come from a previous SPLOST.
  • Approved allowing the police department to open an account at South State Bank for drug seizure cash. Authorized signatures will be Chief Paul Smith and City Clerk Bonnie Kendrick.

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