It was designed to be the solution to traffic trouble for everyone going home to Port Wentworth or Effingham County.
While the diverging diamond interchange at Highway 21 and I-95 has worked, there are new traffic concerns about the busy stretch of Georgia road.
One intersection on Highway 21, Cook street, less than a half mile away from the Interstate toward Effingham County isn’t just backing up traffic, its sending people to the hospital.
“Every accident that i have researched and/or worked has all been because of the exact same thing,” explained Sgt Nathan Jenzen.
“We got waved through by 3 lanes of traffic and we got to the turning lane and didn’t see a car coming and they t-boned us,” remembered Lester Proctor.
Lester Proctor says it was just last week when he tried to cross all eight lanes of Highway 21, just to save time.
“I looked as far down the lane as I could, said ok i’m good, crossed and right as we got into the lane we got hit,” said Proctor.
His wife went to hospital. His car totalled.
Its one of 8 accidents at this same intersection in the past two months. Six of those people had to be cut out of those cars.
“Highway 21 is now four lanes or five with the turn lane. They are playing a chance game,” said Sgt Nathan Jenzen of the Port Wentworth Police Traffic Unit
Port Wentworth Police Sgt Nathan Jenzen says folks are crossing there to avoid waiting at the light at Highway 30, which gets backed up at rush hour.
But that time saved is costing them more.
“If people are waving them on and you cant see that last lane, don’t go,” says Jenzen. “Don’t make that left hand turn.”
“Drivers are trying to do the nice thing and thats great but you are the one trying to drive the vehicle, you are the one responsible. And I want to make sure you get to where you want to go safely.”
Jenzen says there could be one quick fix.
“I’d love to see this turn lane completely gone,” says Jenzen. “It has done nothing but cause issues.”
“I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s business, i’m just trying to make sure no one gets killed or injured.”
For now drivers will have to solve those issues before the next crash takes someone’s life
“You dont think this will be the last accident?”
“No its definitely not the last one,” said Lester Proctor. “and it will only continue and with the speeds people are travelling there could be a a bad one and someone will get seriously hurt.”
“Yes i do believe there will be a fatal accident at that intersection,” said Jenzen. “I don’t want that to happen. that’s why we are coming to you to make sure people watch the news on know that people shouldn’t be here and hopefully Georgia DOT will help us out.”
Lester and every other driver who crosses Highway 21 and then gets hit by a passing car is technically “at fault” and has to pay for the damage to all cars on their insurance.
Sgt Jenzen says when it comes to Highway 21 his hands are tied.
Other than trying to monitor speeds – he has no jurisdiction over that state road.
He is calling the Georgia Department of Transportation this week to see if they will do something, and maybe get rid of the lane to cross 21 entirely.
We’ll keep you updated.