COVINGTON - Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown is urging motorists to exercise patience and caution as they are compelled to make detours when traveling area roadways.
"We're going to do all we can to keep traffic flowing easily," he said Friday afternoon, adding that his office had been receiving complaints from residents caught up in the gridlock that has occurred since floods have forced road closings.
Brown said he would have deputies stationed at "every area of concern," including major arteries of travel and intersections.
"This is going to stretch us, but we're committed to easing the pain and burden of traffic congestion," he said.
Access Road in both directions between Fairview Road and U.S. Highway 278 has been clogged since Crowell and Brown Bridge roads have been closed due to flooding earlier this week. And the Ga. Highway 81 intersection with Bypass Road and Crowell Road in Porterdale, already over-taxed, has seen massive congestion, as well. Surface streets surrounding closed roads are also backing up with increased travel.
Brown suggested that motorists familiarize themselves with road closings and plan alternate routes before leaving home.
"We're asking motorists to please obey the road barrier or road closed signs. They are there for their safety," the sheriff said. "And, they should obey all traffic laws as usual. Violators will be prosecuted."
Brown said officers would be visible directing traffic as needed "in an effort to keep traffic flowing and minimize traffic backup during peak times of work and school travel. The mere fact of an officer being there will help ease the flow better."
In other traffic news, an arrest has been made in a hit-and-run accident that occurred around 6:30 p.m. Thursday on Washington Street.
A Covington police officer filed a report that stated he was flagged down by a motorist reporting the accident. The motorist told the officer a green Ford Taurus ran the red light at Washington Street and Turner Lake Road, colliding with his pickup. The driver of the Taurus did not stop.
The driver of the pickup said he endeavored to follow the woman driver, but "she drove down the side of Turner Lake Road on the grass shoulder around stopped traffic," and he gave up the chase.
A woman passenger in the pickup complained of head pain after hitting her head on the windshield. EMS was called to the scene to assist her, but she refused to be transported to the hospital.
A person who witnessed the accident did follow the woman driving the Taurus and called 911 dispatch with a tag number. The witness continued following the vehicle to 1189 Brown Bridge Road and flagged down a Newton County Sheriff's Office deputy and informed him of the situation.
The deputy approached the woman at the residence and asked if she had been driving the green Ford Taurus that struck a vehicle on Washington Street and she admitted that she was. When asked why she fled the scene, she told him it was because she was scared.
She was transported to speak with the CPD officer at the intersection of Turner Lake and Brown Bridge and she told him the same thing.
Shirley Patterson, 35, of 1189 Brown Bridge Road was arrested and charged with red light violation, improper turn and leaving the scene of an accident with injuries.
Barbara Knowles can be reached at email@example.com
SideBar: Road Closures
· Crowell Road from I-20 to Brown Bridge Road to remain closed due to roadway damage. The length of time for repairs is undetermined.
· Harold Dobbs Road on both sides of Crowell Road remains closed.
· Brown Bridge Road from Ram Drive to Covington City Limits remains closed pending bridge inspection from DOT.
· The bridge at Mt. Tabor and Sockwell roads has been closed following an inspection by the DOT. The bridge was briefly reopened but DOT inspectors determined it may be unsafe for motorists and should be closed until further inspection can be done.