Double Springs officials concerned about ALDOT plan for intersection

Winston County High School Principal Jeff Cole, right, and School Resource Officer Kent Donaldson have concerns over possible limited visibility, once the project at Highway 33 and County Road 24 is completed. A caution light was installed several years ago, after a traffic study did not warrant a red light, according to state officials.

DOUBLE SPRINGS    -  Although a project by the Alabama Department of Transportation to correct a dangerous intersection at Highway 33 and County Road 24 in Double Springs has now been funded,  concerns have been expressed by town officials and law enforcement that the project could cause additional traffic congestion.
Mayor Elmo Robinson explained to town council members at their regular session Monday, Feb. 12, that the original funding allotment  for the project was right at $1 million, but the cost exceeded the amount of grant funds, so an additional $400,000 was approved in ATRIP-II funding to complete the cost of the project.
Once the project is completed, those traveling on Highway 33 from Highway 278 in Double Springs will have an additional turning lane onto County Road 24, which goes toward Winston County High School, Double Springs Middle School and the Winston Career Academy, town officials said.
The project will also leave a separate lane for traffic to go straight, with another turning lane added on Highway 33 turning left onto 24 from the direction of the Bankhead National Forest.
“Hopefully they can get it done during the summer,” Robinson said.  Robinson noted this timing would benefit the project because school would not be in session.
Council Member Tim Cockrell noted that the intersection still does not have a traffic light, but a caution light.
“That is what I griped at them about,” Robinson said about ALDOT. “You spend a million and a half dollars on a road project, where a $250,000 red light would solve the problem.”
“The red light would not have to work all the time, just during school hours,” Cockrell stated.
ALDOT has conducted a traffic count in the area of the 33/24 intersection, but found it did not have enough traffic to warrant installing a traffic signal, council members discussed.
“To me, it’s going to make it more confusing, what they are going to do,” Robinson pointed out.
“I think it’s going to be a bigger safety hazard than it already is,” spoke out Police Chief Kim Miller.
The chief  expressed  concern about new student drivers and the change in the traffic flow, once the project is completed.
Robinson said he had been informed by state officials about large trucks stopping on a hill then starting to back up, causing asphalt to deteriorate.
“They said there was not enough traffic count through there,” the mayor added. “Of course, they did their traffic counts in the summer.  At the time they did it, the trailer plants were not working as many people as what they are now.”

John McWilliams, public information officer over the west-central region of ALDOT, told the Alabamian that adding a turning lane as well as the extension of the present turning lane, are being designed with safety in mind.
“The added lanes will provide safer turning movements for buses, employees, parents and children during school activities,” McWilliams stated.
“The project will keep right-turning vehicles from stacking up in the through (traffic) lane,” he added. “By adding these additional lanes, you’re able to put these vehicles where they need to go in a safe manner.”

McWilliams noted that a traffic signal warrant analysis was done a few years ago for the 33/24 intersection.
“Neither the traffic volumes or crashes at the location warranted a traffic signal,” McWilliams pointed out. “So, for a traffic signal installation to be considered at the location, one or more of the traffic signal warrants has to be satisfied, ultimately.”




See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.
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