A letter has been written by Jackson City Council member Ricky “P-Nut” Johnson to the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) asking them to halt work on the proposed roundabout at Ga. Hwy. 16 and Ga. Hwy. 42 until more study can be done. It was expected to be signed Tuesday night by Johnson and the three other council members who approved the letter on June 16. Mayor Kay Pippin and council member Don Cook are opposed to the letter.
Following public hearings on the proposed roundabout, the council approved a motion seconded by Johnson in November 2016 to support GDOT’s plan for the intersection, which has been one of the most dangerous intersections in Jackson for years, with several fatalities occurring there. Just last month, a Jackson Police officer was injured at the intersection when his patrol car was T-boned by a tractor-trailer while responding to a call.
But at the June meeting, Johnson said he has received multiple complaints about the plans for the roundabout in the last several months.
“This actually started right as we went out on the COVID-19 hiatus, and several people in my district who live or own property or businesses are just now receiving plans that GDOT approved,” Johnson said. “As a result, they feel that the roundabout proposed at Hwy. 16 at Hwy. 42/Brookwood Avenue is too small.
“I want to simply make a motion to ask the GDOT to cease all work on the roundabout until there can be more study on the proposed roundabout and its intended purpose.”
Council member Beth Weaver seconded the motion.
Mayor Kay Pippin countered that Jackson has a history of not being able to decide what it wants.
“There was a major effort on the part of the city council many years ago for a bypass around the city,” Pippin said. “If the citizens of this community had been able to get along well enough and let history take its place, we would be riding on that bypass today. But a handful of citizens didn’t like it... and enough Cain was raised and we lost that bypass.”
Pippin noted that residents also were against one-way pairs through the Jackson square, although she noted that many larger cities who already have the one-way pairs are now trying to get rid of them.
“I think it is embarrassing for the city to make decisions and then renege on those decisions time and time and time again,” Pippin said. “If I were GDOT leadership when I got this information, I would say, ‘Okay Jackson, you’re on your own.’
“You can pass the motion. I, personally, will not write nor sign a letter that says cease to work until such time,” she stated. “If your goal is to please everybody with this project, you’ll win today, but the citizens of this city will lose in the long run.”
Johnson thanked the mayor for her opinion, stating that he valued it highly. But he added that he is asking for the halt for the people of his district, and noted that GDOT is prone to making mistakes.
“A prime example is (the roundabout at) Hwy. 36 at Keys Ferry Road going toward Covington.,” Johnson said. “It makes traffic go quicker, but you have to be more aware on the road because you can almost go straight through the roundabout. It is a dangerous intersection, more dangerous than it was before.
“We’re just asking the GDOT to stop any more work on the roundabout until more study can be made,” he said. “If we can invite GDOT back down here, we have a lot of people now who are engaged who were not engaged before.”
Pippin suggested Johnson amend his motion to just invite GDOT to come to a council session and invite citizens to come and speak about their concerns.
But Johnson did not change his motion and when the vote was called, it was 4-1 in favor, with Don Cook casting the dissenting vote.