School traffic cause bottlenecks in Lee County

School traffic an issue in Leesburg. / Jessica Fairley

Lee County students will head back to school Friday, but as parents race to get their children there on time, officials say they more than likely going to run into a problem....traffic.

Many drivers face heavy traffic during the five o'clock rush hour. They brave the long lines, and the even longer lights, pondering whether to run them or be late. But in Lee County rush hour isn't created by the workforce, it's the race of shuffling children to and from school that's become a headache for drivers.

"The population of Leesburg, when school is in session, goes from 3,000 to 10,000. So you got all this traffic coming into the city when school is in session," said Lee County Director of Planning and Engineering Bob Alexander.

He says normally the traffic in the area flows smoothly but when school starts it becomes a bottleneck and the only thing they can do is improvise, until they have a permanent solution.

"The city of Leesburg and Lee County Sheriff's Department will have officers at major intersections tomorrow and they'll probably be there for the first couple of days before school to help people get in and out of town," said Leesburg Mayor Jim Quinn.

Mayor Quinn says the problem is the lights and lanes on Highway 19. At the intersection in front of the court house there's only one left turning lane which keeps traffic backed up because it allow only a certain amount of drivers to pass through at a given time. Officials say they've joined with the Georgia Department of Transportation to come up with a solution.

"We're trying to add additional lanes to this particular intersection to make traffic a little lighter," said Lee County Engineer Bob Alexander.

He says it'll cost around $120,000 to complete the project and the Department of Transportation has agreed to take on half of the cost. The fate of the project is left up to Lee County Commissioners. The mayor of Leesburg says he hopes the board votes in favor of the plan.

"We're hoping that before school starts next year that the intersection downtown by the railroad tracks will be update and upgraded and work better for people to get in and out," said Mayor Quinn.

The commissioners are expected to vote on the plan on August 23rd.