Pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church Rev. Ben Mock pushed the county for safer roads last week at the November commissioner’s meeting.
Mock said that back in September he submitted a petition to the county with 395 signatures to improve the safety of the stretch of road on North Main Street, in close proximity to the church. He said he also requested a disclosure of the expenses incurred by the county in studies for the installations of STOP signs on Old Philadelphia Road and Collins Road, in addition to a DOT (Department of Transportation) study for re-working the intersection of Old Philadelphia and North Main Street.
“I haven’t received any acknowledgement of the request or any of the documents,”
Sole Commissioner Robert Jones explained the church has requested a three-way STOP sign at Old Philadelphia and Old Highway Five, the stretch of road in front of Mount Zion. Jones reminded Mock before the county installs a three-way STOP sign at this location, it must conduct an engineering study. The commissioner said he had sent Mock a cost estimate for the study of approximately $3,000.
“I (also) requested that the same consideration be given to North Main as was given South Main years ago, lowering the speed to 35 (MPH),”
“And also eliminating the passing area (in front of Mount Zion).”
Mock stressed what he believed to be the dangerous traffic situation in this area, citing several accidents and one with a fatality.
“I hate to be tacky,”
“but I’m glad (Sheriff) Donnie (Craig) has got this traffic safety grant now, because you all are going to be working another fatality right in front of Mount Zion if this doesn’t get addressed quickly.”
Last month, Pickens County received a HEAT (Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic) grant from the Federal Government. The $143,200 traffic safety grant will fund two police vehicles and an officer’s salary for one of those vehicles. Sheriff Craig said these new resources will be used to patrol through out the county, but will focus on some of the more rural roads, not just Highways 53 and 515.
“We actually started (patrolling) a few weeks ago,”
“There were already 70 citations that were written in the first four days of the HEAT program. Of those we had four DUIs that were taken off the roads, as well as several drug arrests.”
The sheriff said the county won the grant due to its high traffic fatality and injury rate.
But Mock said accidents continue in the area and considers it his moral responsibility to push for the improvement of traffic safety measures near Mount Zion.
Jones said he had received several proposals for the safety study from engineering companies, but said he held off on any decision because he wanted to finish the budget. Now that the budget is finished, he said, he would work to secure funding for the project.
“Doing this engineering study,”
“does not guarantee that they’re going to recommend STOP signs.”
While accepting this, Mock went on to stress the urgency of the situation.
“I don’t want to be antagonistic,”
“but you all don’t have to do the funerals or deal with the families who are losing loved ones at that intersection on that stretch of road--I do.”