MILTON, Ga. — Milton officials are moving ahead with the next step in creating a “local road safety plan” aimed at reducing crashes, calming traffic and tailoring its roads to meet the specific needs in the city.
“This issue effects every Milton citizen,” Councilwoman Laura Bentley said. “I can’t think of anyone I would talk to that would say we don’t have an issue with our road safety.”
The process began last year with officials beginning to source traffic data and compile a survey for residents related to local traffic issues. Now, the city has opted to bring on a consultant to help take a deeper dive into traffic safety issues and how they can be addressed.
At the Milton City Council’s April 19 work session, officials opted for a two-tiered approach to creating its plan that will combine the firsthand knowledge of city leaders and the traffic expertise of an outside consultant.
The city and its consultant will delve into cost-effective solutions for improving safety on Milton’s roads, including measures like installing more roundabouts, pavement markings, or signage, targeted traffic enforcement at high-risk areas and determining appropriate speed limits.
Police Chief Rich Austin, who is spearheading the local road safety plan with Transportation Engineer and interim Public Works Director Sara Leaders, said hiring a consultant will streamline improvements, provide third-party validation for data and issues and provide an in-house and external team.
The downside to the process is the cost for hiring and finding a qualified outside firm and delaying some improvements until that firm is hired. However, the City Council was on-board with city staff working with a consultant for the dual-layered approach.
While a consultant will dive further into statistics and information related to local traffic, city officials have already kicked off the data-gathering process.
Austin presented some initial information that gives insight into problem areas and traffic safety concerns of some residents at the April 19 work session.
From 2015 to 2019, there were about 700 car crashes, about 140 them involving possible injuries, in Milton each year. During that span, there were 10 fatalities, four crashes involving cyclists and 14 involving pedestrians.
All road safety related incidents fell on average in 2020 with fewer cars on the road due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the past five years, the intersection of Bethany Bend and Ga. 9 has been the city’s most crash-prone area, according to information gathered by the city. There were 122 crashes at the intersection from 2016 to 2021, nearly double the number of crashes at the second most problematic intersection, Deerfield Parkway and Ga. 9.
Other intersections that saw more than 40 crashes during that span include Deerfield Parkway at Webb Road, Cox Road at Arnold Mill Road and Cogburn Road at Bethany Bend.
Austin also presented results of a city survey on road safety. Among nearly 400 responses, the top concerns were distracted driving, speeding and navigating cyclists. The top three areas of concern noted by respondents was safety along Birmingham Highway, Bethany Bend, Bethany Way and Bethany Road, and the Hopewell Road/Cogburn Road areas.
Over three-quarters of respondents supported adding bicycle lanes to select roads, and more than 90 percent were in favor of adding sidewalks or multi-use trails. Top safety measures suggested in the survey include adding more roundabouts, improving cycling/pedestrian use away from car traffic, widening roads and adding turn lanes.
“While the survey wasn’t statistically valid, it did provide valuable suggestions,” Leaders said.