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Macon-Bibb holds summit to talk about plans for safer streets after a rise in pedestrian deaths

Speakers talked about the work the county has done to improve safety and what's to come our way. They say they know pedestrian deaths are a public health issue.

MACON, Ga. — Macon-Bibb has a problem with pedestrian deaths.

More than 30 in the past two years. The county's Pedestrian Safety Review Board has worked to make the streets safer for six years. They had a summit to report on what they've done and hear from the public.

Several speakers were talking about the county's work to improve safety and what's coming our way. They recognized that pedestrian deaths are a public health issue for Macon-Bibb.

13WMAZ's Jessica Cha spoke with one woman who came to the summit and what concerns her about our roads.

"Yes, it does scare me," says Lillie Gantt Evans.

For 20 years, Evans has owned Lil's Beauty Salon– it sits on Pio Nono Avenue and Anthony Road. She says she's seen at least 15 pedestrians hit.

"People just walk across the street, not paying attention, and so many have gotten killed," she explains.

Evans says folks don't want to walk all the way to the crosswalk down the block, and drivers don't slow down either.

"Approximately about 75 and 80 miles an hour. They don't slow up."Macon-Bibb's Pedestrian Safety Review Board held a summit.

"Pio Nono is one of the most dangerous roads in Georgia," Macon-Bibb's Coroner Leon Jones says.

County leaders like Jones, commissioners, and the mayor said they know there's a problem.

"Pio Nono at Houston, Pio Nono at Canterbury, Pio Nono at Dewey Street, Pio Nono at Harris Street, Pio Nono at Carroll Street, Pio Nono at Spencer Circle, Hawkinsville Road at Liberty Church, Hawkinsville Road at Houston– all of these are pedestrians," Jones explains.

County Commissioner Elaine Lucas, who's on the board, says that's why they're here.

"What we are doing is as much prevention as much education. Using taxpayers' money for intervention," Lucas says.

The county hired a safety consultant– Peachtree Recovery Services– to identify problems, why they're happening, and what they can do to solve them.

"We, basically, start looking for four years at a time. We draw heat maps. What the heat maps are going to do is it's going to radiate red. There's a high density of accidents in a certain area. We kind of zero in on all the hotspots and analyze every accident in that area to understand why it's happening," Todd Rhoad explains. "In a lot of cases, we'll be making recommendations to GDOT for intersections that cause a lot of injuries and accidents."

Traffic engineer Nigel Floyd says they've worked closely with the Georgia Department of Transportation. He says GDOT does two Road Safety Audits each year.

He says Macon has been lucky to have completed some on Gray Highway, Eisenhower, Pio Nono, and Mercer University.

"Oglesby had no pedestrian crosses at Oglesby at all. We were able to redo the traffic signal and install additional pedestrian crosses at Oglesby. That was a direct result of that RSA," he explains.

Floyd says the state and the county are working on reducing speeds on Gray Highway and installing roundabouts at Eisenhower Parkway & 1-75, Mercer University, and Anthony Road & Pio Nono.

"This is about $15 million that GDOT is pumping into Bibb County. This is just funding they're putting into Macon-Bibb county because the board has went to them to show them areas that we feel like that are problem areas in terms of pedestrians," Floyd says.

One of those roundabouts is where Evans' business is.

"I really feel better since I went to that meeting, and I think everything will be alright at soon as possible," Evans says.

The Pedestrian Safety Review Board says they're set to present four years of data– 2019 to 2022– showing where the most accidents are happening in the county. They plan to identify why it's happening and offer suggestions for fixing it.

The board meets every third Tuesday of the month at 10 a.m. in the Macon-Bibb government center.

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