ATLANTA (AP) -- Records show that the left-hand exit where the deadly Bluffton bus crash occurred is the only one of its kind in the Atlanta area where there have been fatal wrecks. Records released by the Georgia Department of Transportation show there have been two other deadly accidents at the same Interstate 75 exit where the bus carrying the Bluffton University baseball team crashed March 2.
Five players from the Bluffton Beavers baseball team and their two bus drivers died after their bus plunged over an expressway. The team was headed to Sarasota, Florida, to play in a double header with Eastern Mennonite University. Then they were headed to Fort Myers to participate in the Gene Cusic Classic tournament.
Atlanta Police spokesman Joe Cobb said the driver apparently mistook an exit lane at Northside Drive for part of a carpool lane, and drove up the ramp until he hit an intersection. The bus went off the overpass, and tumbled over a fence and guard rail, landing on its left side.
Hundreds of people packed Founders Hall on the Bluffton University campus for the memorial service Monday night. The service was attended by Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, numerous other public officials, college and university representatives, Mennonite Church officials, other athletes from colleges in the same conference, and fire and rescue personnel.
Officials already have added new signs and markings at the exit. Measures to be implemented there include:
- Widen existing skip striping at the bottom of the ramp to 10 inches
- Add word "EXIT" after HOV diamond at bottom of exit ramp delineated with raised pavement markers
- Increase the size of "STOP AHEAD" signs to 48 inches
- Add 2nd set of "STOP AHEAD" pavement marking words delineated with raised pavement markers
- Increase the size of "STOP" sign to 48 inches
- Widen striped gore area at terminus of ramp to at least 6 feet and add another 48-inch "STOP" sign delineated with raised pavement markers
- Add raised concrete island in the median on Northside Drive
- Add two-directional large arrow warning sign (60 inch x 30 inch) on fence on south side of Northside Drive
- Add 10-inch corrugated delineators on entire length of south side Northside Drive barrier wall.
Georgia DOT crews will begin similar work on HOV left-hand interchanges at Spring Street (Williams Street) SB, Piedmont Avenue NB, Memorial Drive NB, and C.W. Grant Parkway NB and SB, all on the Downtown Connector, as well as Lindberg Drive SB on I-85 and Akers Mill Road NB on I-75. The exact enhancements to be placed at these locations will be determined on a ramp-by-ramp basis.
On the Web:
Georgia DOT: www.dot.state.ga.us