Roadscapes Stuff

Roadscapes Wednesday: New Jacksonville School In A Bad Location

Roadscapes Geek Alabama

Imagine a town that pledges their allegiance to that big box store called Wal-Mart.  Imagine that town putting all of their schools, police departments, fire departments, city departments, and possibly even their city hall behind Wal-Mart?  Imagine having a town abandon their downtown to move just about all city offices and buildings behind Wally World?  You would think this is crazy!  But it is really going to happen in one city in Alabama, called Jacksonville.

Soon, Jacksonville High School will be joined with the moving of Kitty Stone Elementary School across the street.  A new elementary school is going to be built across the street from the high school, even though many residents spoke in opposition to this move, the school board still voted 5-0 for the move.  And that’s not all!  Soon, the city of Jacksonville will build a new police and fire department along George Douthit Drive near the schools.  Here is a map of the area.

From Google Maps.

From Google Maps.

So I have a couple of problems with this, and it mostly involves George Douthit Drive.  The road is a 2-lane road with an extremely slow 25 mph speed limit.  I believe the speed limit could be raised to 35 and things would be just fine.  The road features 2 4-way stops at the high school / James Hopkins Road and at Pointer Dr. / 2nd Ave.  With all the increased traffic that is now going to come, I hope the city has plans to upgrade these 4-way stops to traffic lights.  Because if not, you are going to have an extremely long line of cars waiting to get across that stop sign.

Another problem, there are currently no sidewalks along George Douthit Drive.  Yeah, I have heard the city saying they want to build and install sidewalks along the road, but when is that going to happen?  I would not want small kids walking in the road because sidewalks are not available.  And three, I hope the city has plans to widen George Douthit Drive with at least a center lane so cars turning left won’t block others behind them.  I don’t want the city to build the new school, then wait up to 10 years to widen the road, and make traffic suffer.

From Google Maps.

From Google Maps.

And here is my biggest criticism, and it does not involve roads.  Alabama is in tornado alley, where destructive and deadly tornadoes happen yearly.  Why would a city place all of their schools, fire, and police resources in one small location?  What if a EF5 tornado comes up and destroys all the schools, fire department equipment, and police equipment?  The town would then be in major trouble.  As cities should have learned from the Tuscaloosa EF4 tornado on 4-27-11, cities should not place all of their major resources in one small area!  They should be spread out across town, just in case a disaster like a tornado happens.

But I guess the city of Jacksonville wants to honor that big box store.  I hope Jacksonville ultimately does not move city hall and pretty much leaves their public square behind.  Cities should be celebrating their downtowns, not leaving it behind because Wal-Mart is such a great store.  It sometimes boggles my behind when cities make bad decisions like the ones Jacksonville has made, I hope it does not come back to bite them.

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