Roundabouts and other traffic changes coming to Appling-Harlem exit

APPLING, Ga. (WJBF) – Neighbors who live near the I-20 interchange with U-S Highway 221 in Columbia County say they’re worried about what a new project that includes two traffic circles at the interchange will mean for them.

Pam Blanchard was shocked when she heard the news.

“Oh my God, it was devastating. I can’t even imagine the damage that would be done to the streets with the tractor trailer trucks and the dump trucks,” said Blanchard.

Monday, we told you an industrial park was coming to this area near the interchange to host Club Car.

More industry is expected to follow that and county leaders say that means the changes to this area are necessary.

“Right now, it’s terrible. It was designed 50, 60 years ago. Well, as part of the T-SPLOST, it is being redesigned,” said Columbia County Commissioner Bill Morris.

Morris says that opens up the ability for more traffic and more brick and mortar.

“It’s just a matter of time before more people are going to be knocking on the door for development,” said Morris.

Here’s the plan, the exit ramps and bridge will be expanded and when you come to Appling-Harlem Road, you’ll be faced with two roundabouts.

Blanchard says she’s not in favor of the industrial park or the traffic plan.

Ashley Campbell: “Roundabouts…you say no way, we don’t need them.”

“No, especially not at entrances and exits near a highway,” responded Blanchard.

Columbia County Traffic Engineering Director Steve Cassell says traffic circles, or roundabouts, are actually safer than the way the exit is now and are preferred by G-DOT.

The roundabout is a lot safer because it eliminates T-bone accidents. You yield on entry and it slows the traffic down,” said Cassell.

Cassell says it just takes some getting used to.

The problem is, Blanchard says, many of the residents in Appling, don’t want to get used to the traffic plan.

They like the area exactly as it is.

The TIA project along Appling-Harlem Road and exit 183 is expected to start in 2020.

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