Petitioners want traffic light at 'insane' Warner Robins intersection

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Warner Robins petitioners are calling for a traffic light at the intersection of Tharpe Road and Russell Parkway. 

The online petition has more than 1,200 signatures and calls on the Georgia Department of Transportation to install a light. 

There's just one problem -- it's not a GDOT-controlled intersection and city leaders say adding a light might not fix the perceived problem.

The petition says there have been multiple accidents and fatalities at the intersection of Tharpe Road and Russell Parkway and calls it, “Insane trying to cross 4 lanes of traffic.” 

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You can see the petition here. 

Robin Thomas has lived nearby for four years and says she knows it's dangerous. 

“Well, I don't think people are paying attention and it's a lot of lanes of traffic to cross, and people are traveling at a high rate of speed going down Russell Parkway,” Thomas told WMAZ outside her home. 

People at some nearby businesses agreed. 

WMAZ filed an open records request with Warner Robins Police. 

In 2016, there were 14 accidents, and in 2017, there were 11. 

Only one of those was fatal. In December of 2017, a trucked pulled into Russell and was hit. A 90-year-old passenger wasn't wearing a seatbelt and died from her injuries, according to a WRPD press release. 

Just down the road at the intersection of Lake Joy and Russell, there is a light, but more accidents. 

In 2016, there were 33, and in 2017, there were 18, according to WRPD Assistant Chief John Wagner. 

But Thomas says after hearing those numbers, she's not convinced.

“No. I still think that intersection at Tharpe is extremely serious and I think something has to be done. You know, if it's not a light, then some other measure needs to take place to make sure a fatality doesn't occur again,” Thomas said. 

She also expressed concern for her neighborhood and the neighborhood children. Thomas says since the fatal accident in December, people have started cutting through the neighborhood to go to the light at Lake Joy and Russell, instead of going on Tharpe. 

City Councilmen Tim Thomas and Clifford Holmes say they know people are concerned, but did not know about the petition. 

Thomas and Holmes also say they're not convinced a light would stop accidents and Thomas suggested an alternative. 

“If you come through the traffic light there at Russell and Lake Joy, sometimes you're hitting 65 miles per hour,” He started. 

“Yes,” said Holmes while nodding next to him.

“So at the time you're hitting Tharpe Road, you're at a good speed. Coming off Tharpe Road, you're trying to beat the traffic, and that's where you're getting the accidents. I think if we look at reducing the speed in this area, then maybe we will reduce some of the accidents,” he finished. 

The council did ask to get the ball rolling on a traffic study. City Engineer Forrest Walker says that study, if approved, would cost up to $13,000 and take a month to complete.

It would monitor traffic patterns at Tharpe as well as about 4 to 5 other nearby intersections. Walker explained that putting a new light in one spot could disrupt or create new problems elsewhere. 

Neither Thomas nor Holmes wanted to fully endorse a change before hearing back from the study. However, both said they feared a new light could lead to more accidents and Holmes said he did not want to put another traffic light so close to Lake Joy and Russell. 

Council has discussed other options in the past including making the Tharpe intersections at Russell in both directions right turn only, adding a light, or leaving it the way it is currently.