Special Report: Eyes in the sky watching you, keeping traffic moving

(Evans, GA)

If you want proof that there's big time growth in Columbia County, just get in your car. Tens of thousands of drivers out here every day. People going into, out of, and around this booming area.

"One thing they can't stand is sitting still," Engineering Services Director Steve Cassell says. "As long as they're moving, most people are fine. Not totally fine or happy, but when you stop is when the frustration starts to get in."

That is when Steve Cassell and his team step in. Welcome to Columbia County's Traffic Control Center. A high-tech floor to ceiling set of eyes in the sky. Cameras set up at more than 70-traffic lights.  A system that watches you and your fellow drivers and decides what to do.

"Basically it's got an algorythm in there. It's calculating how to best operate the corridor, based on what's out there right there."

And if things get backed up, the traffic engineers can flush a congested lane,  and get you rolling.

"We'll take over the intersection and hold the green arrow 'til it's done."

You may have never had the pleasure of meeting Steve Cassell, but you know his work.  The new Berckman's Road is Cassell's brainchild. His masterpiece that  makes Masters Week so much easier.

"I just really enjoy tweaking things. The Masters always gave me something hands on where you could see, you do a little thing you see a big impact."

And now he and his team are tweaking things throughout Columbia County. Trying to keep up with a rapidly changing landscape.

"The challenge we have is to keep up with the growth.  Public Works projects are always going to lag the growth.  A lot of what we do are for 20-year projections. The biggest challenge we have is looking to properly invest the money we have."

That means making a little go a long way.

And the traffic solution doesn't always have to be super expensive. Take Fury's Ferry and North Belair here. Crews laid down a little asphalt, put in a right turn lane, and saved you about 15-minutes at this intersection.

"That's 10-thousand feet of cars that weren't getting through that intersection before that now are in an hour. That's 2 miles of traffic that was backed up, relying on signals."

Another success story from a group that's dedicated to making Columbia County traffic better.  Remember that the next time it's bumper to bumper.  Remember that they are watching and working to free you up. It's all about getting everybody there and back as quickly, efficiently, and safely as possible.

"It's the most personal thing that most people have," he says. " It affects them,  when they pick up their kids, when they get to work, when they get home, when they get to eat, when they're going out and having a good time, it's always based on the traffic. You just don't want that to be an issue."



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