HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The addition of a turning lane on U.S. 76 was discussed between Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw and Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) Engineer Russell McMurry in Atlanta Aug. 28. Georgia State Senator John Wilkinson accompanied Bradshaw to the meeting. Bradshaw told FetchYourNews that McMurry was highly receptive to the community’s safety concerns, connecting the commissioner with DOT District One Engineer Brandon Kirby.
Kirby is expected to conduct additional studies on Towns County’s main highway in order to begin constructing a blueprint to install a turning lane on the dangerous roadway. Kirby recently replaced now-retired District One Engineer Brent Cook. The district engineer oversees the DOT’s programs in 21 counties in northeast Georgia, aiming to build partnerships with local and state lawmakers, chambers of commerce, business leaders, and the public in the region.
“I feel good about our conversation,” Bradshaw said. “I made it clear that studies should not be done during the winter months when our population drops. It was explained, however, that it will likely take many years for DOT to complete the project.”
The vicinity of Papa’s Pizza, west of Hiawassee, has been the site of community concern for many years, and Bradshaw has diligently pursued the matter since his election to office in 2017. Bradshaw was additionally scheduled to meet with Governor Brain Kemp while visiting Atlanta, a meeting that was postponed until Sept. 25 due to Governor Kemp’s attendance at a funeral.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw plans to take the fight for a center-turning lane on U.S. 76, west of Hiawassee, to Atlanta next week where the commissioner will meet with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and State Department of Transportation (DOT) Director Russell McMurry to discuss the pertinent topic. Bradshaw has persistently pushed for the lane addition since taking office, campaigning on a promise to make Towns County’s main highway safer for motorists.
Bradshaw’s decision to press the issue at the State Capitol came prior to the recent death of Randy Barnes Sr., a Hiawassee motorcyclist who lost his life following an Aug. 13 accident in the area of highest safety concern, the stretch of roadway in the vicinity of Papa’s Pizza.
“I’m going to plead our case,” Commissioner Bradshaw told FYN on Tuesday. “It’s a life or death situation. It causes great concern and getting something done is a promise that I plan to keep. We’re going to the top and we’re going to push hard.”
According to district research conducted by the Department of Transportation, the task of widening the highway could prove to be a difficult feat. With Lake Chatuge bordering U.S. 76 to the north, and steep embankments on the southern slope, issues with construction logistics were cited by the department in April 2018. While it may be possible to install turning lanes in critical areas, a continuous stretch of center roadway may not be feasible. “We’ll be happy with that, but that’s not what we want,” Bradshaw said.
Citizens continued to speak out on the danger surrounding the portion of highway in question, following the recent fatality, taking to social media to make their concerns known.
UPDATED, Aug. 26: Tomorrow’s meeting between Commissioner Bradshaw and Governor Kemp has been postponed due to a funeral that the governor will attend. Bradshaw reported that the meeting will soon be rescheduled.
HIAWASSEE, Ga.- A motorcyclist suffered severe injuries following a collision in front of Papa’s Pizza on State Route 76, west of Hiawassee, as an employee was leaving the restaurant’s parking lot. Towns County first responders were dispatched to the site of the accident at 3:15 pm, Tuesday, Aug. 13.
The two vehicle accident caused life-threatening injuries to the motorcyclist, including extensive trauma to the lower extremities. The victim, a male in his mid-to-late 50s, was flown to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, GA, for emergency surgery. Traffic on State Route 76 was temporarily stalled in order to create a landing zone for the medical helicopter.
FYN reported on the danger surrounding the area where the accident occurred in April 2018. Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw contacted the Department of Transportation, insisting on a center-turning lane on State Route 76, to no avail due to logistics. Bradshaw told FYN in recent days that he plans to again address the issue in the near future while visiting the state capitol.
“We want a center-turning lane. It’s very dangerous leaving Hiawassee, going in that direction,” Bradshaw told FYN last spring. “If you want to take a left-hand turn to get into Papa’s Pizza, or several other places, you’re constantly looking in your rear-view mirror, afraid you’re going to get hit. It’s very dangerous…I said you’re going to have to stay on top of this. The community is demanding this. I will not let it die. I’m going to stay on top of it.”