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Douglasville not sure when it will move potentially deadly guardrail

5:51 PM, May 15, 2013   |    comments
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  • Dangerous guardrail on Douglasville's Chapel Hill Road
  • Dangerous guardrail on Douglasville's Chapel Hill Road
  • Accident victim Faye Bouchard (family photo)
  • Faye Bouchard's 2009 fatal accident on Chapel Hill Road (Douglasville Police photo)
    

DOUGLASVILLE, GA - A dangerous guardrail in Douglasville has still not been moved, despite a $1.5 million legal settlement and despite a signed agreement by the city's mayor to relocate it.

On Tuesday, 11 Alive News told you the City of Douglasville had agreed to move a guardrail on Chapel Hill Road after the city and two contractors settled a lawsuit. The suit claimed the guardrail created a hazardous blind spot coming out of a church parking lot on Chapel Hill Road. Each of the parties paid $500 thousand to the family of Faye Bouchard who died following a crash.

She died the day after her car was hit on November 18, 2009 leaving the parking lot of the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, where she had dropped off some food.

Her car was t-boned by an oncoming vehicle as she was turning left onto Chapel Hill Road at night.

Her family hired Atlanta attorney Jed Manton and sued when the city refused to admit the guardrail was a hazard because it blocked much of the view of oncoming traffic.

On March 23rd, Douglasville City Council agreed to an out of court settlement and promised to relocate the guardrail, but it still hasn't happened.

Wednesday we went looking for answers about why the hazard is still in place six weeks later.

We asked Mayor Harvey Persons, "why no work has been done?"

"The reason for that," he told us, "is that it's a very complicated process when it comes to moving something like a guardrail when it's on a major thoroughfare like that."

Persons said the process involves a new engineering plan and cooperation with utility companies, as well as the department of transportation.

Douglasville's City Council is supposed to vote on the new design at its May 20th meeting.

Even though it signed a settlement with the Bouchard family, the city has never admitted any responsibility for her death.

But there is evidence they were aware of a potential problem.

In a videotaped deposition taken by Bouchard's family attorney, Douglasville Police Officer, Sam Crosley, talked about speaking with Bouchard before she died.

"She had told me that she was pulling out; she said she never saw them," the officer said.

11 Alive discovered there was another similar wreck at that same intersection, three years later on March 7th, 2012. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt. The driver, Zach Christian, who races cars, hit the gas, rather than the brakes, in order to get out of the way of an oncoming car. That's two crashes, since the road was widened and the guardrail added 5 years ago.

That may not seem like very many, but there's not a lot of traffic in and out of the church parking lot on a daily basis.

We also learned the guardrail was never supposed to be at the edge of the road within inches of oncoming traffic.

The engineering plan originally called for it to be 12 feet from the road, but that was moved up to 6 feet because of some utility poles on the right of way.

But an employee for the contractor decided to instruct the subcontractor to install the guardrail at the face of the curb, without getting approval from the traffic engineer.

When asked "why?" in a videotaped deposition, Mickey Chadwick replied, "The old adage of time is money."

Time also means the potential of more lost lives or injuries and more potential lawsuits, according to Faye Bouchard's family.

"I don't understand why they have to go out and get more studies because the original plan was to be 12 feet off the road," Bouchard's daughter Tessia Perkey told 11 Alive on Wednesday.

We also asked Mayor Persons if the city couldn't put up some type of warning signs, even temporary ones, until the guardrail can be relocated.

"That's something that will be left up to the proper individuals that look at the safety standards and engineering standards and the highway people that look at those issues," he said.

Persons said he has no idea when the relocation work could begin and how long it will take to complete.

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