Roadscapes: The Deadly ALDOT Mentality Over The US 431 Anniston Eastern Bypass


So it happened again, in only a 1 1/2 year period since the Anniston Eastern Bypass fully opened in December 2015 and US 431 was placed onto the road.  Another 18 wheeler did not stop and ran through a red light, the truck struck several cars and ended up in the nearby woods.  Sadly, one person died at this wreck.

This has not been the only wreck at this intersection of the Anniston Eastern Bypass at Coleman Road and Choccolocco Road.  There have been multiple wrecks usually involving an 18-wheeler who does or can not stop, runs through the red light, and strikes other cars.  This has been an HUGE problem since the bypass fully opened.  And my question is this?  Why did ALDOT think a road like this where fully loaded 18-wheelers going down a large mountain hill and might have to stop at the bottom was a brilliant idea?

Seriously!  If we were in another state like Georgia, the intersection at the bottom of the hill would have been a freeway interchange so traffic on the US 431 bypass would not have to stop.  This would eliminate the possibility that an 18-wheeler could not stop because it lost its brakes.  But we are stuck with this and it’s hurting and killing people.  Sure, ALDOT thought adding more traffic lights and adding 2 red lights at the top with yellow reflective tape for traffic going down the mountain was going to help?  It’s not!

But the troubles don’t stop there.  There is also an intersection in the middle of going down the mountain called Henry Road.  Right off Henry Road there is The Donoho School.  And every morning and afternoon while school is in session, you see long lines of cars wanting to turn left onto Henry Road off the bypass, while cars are coming at them doing 65 mph +!  On both sides, ALDOT did put up yellow flashers warning drivers of the intersection, but it’s clearly not enough!

Some drivers who want to turn left onto the bypass from Henry Road have a really fun time doing so.  Like this truck who stopped in the middle of the lanes going downhill to yield, not smart.

And you can say, could drivers take a nearby parallel street and connect to Henry Road?  Well, in a crazy move there is a no left turn sign to turn left onto Henry Road.  Why is this here?

Some have said putting a traffic light here would solve the problems, but sadly it will not.  You see, if a fully loaded truck going down the mountain goes past the runaway truck ramp and sees a red light, and loses it brakes, well you know what will happen next.  Having a traffic light here is NOT going to work!

The only solution is to make the Henry Road intersection a freeway interchange, but ALDOT is cheap as we all know too well.  So enjoy the long lines and long waits to get onto and off the bypass.  Now let’s focus on that Coleman Road / Choccolocco Road intersection.  ALDOT did add more lights, but it’s not working.  Going down the mountain, there is only a traffic light sign with signal ahead road markings.

So, why there can not be a sign with flashers telling drivers and truckers that the light at the bottom of the hill is going to turn or be red?  They do this on US 431 in Huntsville, why not here too?

From Google Maps.

From Google Maps.

Another thing I see is ALDOT could make the yellow light longer and the all red, where all four sides are red, longer.  If all four sides were all red for a longer amount of time, it might prevent some of these wrecks!  ALDOT could also install technology that is used on US 280 in Shelby County that detects trucks coming down the hills there.  Why is this not used here?

But, nothing much can change until we deal with the biggest problem, everyone going WAY too fast going down the mountain.  The speed limit drops from 65 mph to 50 mph while going down the mountain.  Yes, while going down the mountain.  Why is this not done at the very top?

Yes, there is a radar sign that tells the speed drivers are going.

And as you can see in this short video clip, EVERY driver is going way over the speed limit.

So, why is there not a speed radar sign over each lane on an overhead pole?  Or better yet, flashers to tell drivers you are going too fast?  They do this on some roads in Alabama, it’s needed here too!

From Google Maps.

And why is there not a LOWER speed limit for trucks going down the mountain?  On US 431 in Guntersville, there is a lower speed limit for trucks going down Sand Mountain.

From Google Maps.

The same for trucks going down Monteagle Mountain on Interstate 24 in Tennessee.  This stretch of road has the same downhill grade as the US 431 mountain.

From Google Maps.

There must be a LOWER speed limit for trucks and 18-wheelers going down this mountain, I can’t believe ALDOT did not do this before the road fully opened!  It takes a MUCH longer time for a 18-wheeler to stop versus a car.  It takes a fully loaded 18-wheeler even longer to fully stop, someone was not thinking when designing this road about trucks going down the mountain who might not be able to stop because their brakes were lost?

To sum things up, ALDOT needs to install better signage and paint markings, flashers with technology to tell drivers when the traffic light will turn red, and lower speed limits for trucks going down the mountain.

The reason why many of us roadgeeks do not like ALDOT is because they tend to not listen to us for smart ideas or sometimes just completely ignore us.  Another reason is because ALDOT comes up with some really dumb road designs and does not maintain or force towns to maintain their traffic lights for example when a sensor is malfunctioning.

I guess ALDOT really does not care about this stretch of US 431, which is quickly becoming the most dangerous stretch of highway in all of Alabama.  So, how many more people will be killed or injured before something is done here?  That is the motto so many of us uses when we talk about ALDOT.

Advertisements

Roadscapes: The Stupid 22nd Street North New Traffic Pattern From ALDOT


I’m just going to file this under the stupidity category.  On May 31st, ALDOT closed down the 17th Street North exit along I-20 East / I-59 North in downtown Birmingham.  The ramp is now closed so it can be torn down and the new ramps built in the whole I-20/59 Bridge project.  Okay, we all knew this was coming, but what ALDOT did next is one of the craziest things I have seen from any DOT in this country.

They are now forcing all traffic on I-20/59 to exit at the 22nd Street North exit to get into downtown Birmingham.  If you are coming down 22nd Street North from the BJCC, you are no longer able to go under the Interstate and must turn either left or right at 9th Avenue North.

From ABC 33/40.

That’s not even the crazy part, the stupid part comes after you exit the Interstate onto the street.  From the Interstate to the 8th Avenue North, or the Reverend Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd., you are forced to stay in either side of two lanes with barriers going down the middle of the street.

From Google Maps

From ABC 33/40.

You can imagine what this has caused.  Traffic getting off going South or West must go either straight or left.  Going North or East, traffic must go either straight or right at Reverend Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd.  Does ALDOT really think traffic will follow the new traffic pattern and not see cars crossing over to turn right over an lane going straight or a car turning left crossing over to turn left over an lane going straight?  ABC 33/40 reporter Lauren Walsh caught multiple cars in a very short time crossing over that barrier and turning left or right and crossing lanes where cars can go straight.

And while Lauren Walsh was doing a live shot on the ABC 33/40 News, in only 15 seconds you saw two cars turning right and crossing an lane where cars going straight are doing so. (photos below from ABC 33/40)

 

So, does ALDOT love drivers getting into accidents or something.  This is one of the worst designs I have ever seen.  ALDOT did this because they did not want traffic backing up onto the Interstate.  But when I watched the liveshots today on ABC 33/40, traffic did not back up that much and I wonder why the traffic light at the bottom of the ramp was even turned off?

Okay, if you insist in keeping this horrible design that is going to get people injured and in wrecks, you could set up the traffic lights just like the end of Interstate 359 in Tuscaloosa.  Where the three lanes from the highway get a green light to make any turns, then the on ramp gets the green light to make any turns.

From Google Maps.

At the end of the day, this horrible and stupid design along 22nd Street North in Birmingham is not going to work, even if you put up all the signs and lane markings in the world to tell drivers which directions they can go.  Drivers are going to take the shortest and fastest route they can to get to their destination.  They are NOT going to loop around several city blocks and waste time because ALDOT designed something stupid.  You will continue to see cars cutting across lanes to turn left and right where cars can go straight, and accidents are going to happen!  Get this fixed, and now!

Roadscapes Wednesday: Say So Long To US 431 On Quintard Avenue


Roadscapes Geek Alabama

For about hundred years now, US 431 has been routed down Quintard Avenue in Anniston.  It is paired with AL-21 and it’s one of the busiest roads in East Alabama.  In fact, I even made an Roadscapes video highlighting Quintard Ave.  But very soon, my video will be outdated!  Because US 431 is about to leave Quintard Avenue forever.

That’s right, when the Anniston Eastern Bypass fully opens, US 431 will be the official routing.  The original plan from ALDOT was to have US 431 continue onto Quintard Avenue, and the new bypass be named AL-901.  As seen from the blueprint below of the new intersection in Saks.

RxhPP4Z

But, things have changed!  When the bypass fully opens, US 431 will go onto the bypass.  And instead of taking US 78 in Oxford, US 431 will go onto Interstate 20 between exits 188 and 191.  How do I know this?  Because ALDOT put up BGS signs at the exit 188 interchange in Oxford.

stuff 497stuff 511stuff 522

For now, ALDOT has used black cloth to cover up the US 431 shields, since the bypass is not fully open yet.  But, the cloth was not put on very good since it’s temporary.  Thanks to some wind blowing the cloths open.  You can tell what is being covered up is US 431.

stuff 499stuff 510stuff 525

So, when the bypass fully opens, all of the current US 431 signs along Quintard Ave. and US 78 will be removed.  But don’t worry, Quintard Ave. will still be a state highway as AL-21 will still be traveling down the busy road.  One has to wonder, with US 431 moving, how much of the traffic levels will drop off along Quintard Ave?

Roadscapes Wednesday: Will The US 280 Flyovers Ever Be Built


Roadscapes Geek Alabama

On this Roadscapes Wednesday, I am opening up the Geek Alabama mailbag!  A person named Roman Selig e-mailed me about the horrible and disastrous US Highway 280!  Roman wrote:

I consider the last “improvements” to Hwy. 280 as a band aid. I don’t think the traffic problems on 280 will be cured until something is done to eliminate the bottle neck at 280 and I-459. I know that a flyover was started but then stopped when talk of other improvements – elevated highway, etc. – began. That’s why there is a dysfunctional traffic arrangement for traffic exiting I-459. It’s too bad that none of those plans were implemented but I’m sure you know that there will never be consensus and the only way something like that will happen is if ALDOT just makes an executive decision. I realize that is probably impossible because of too many politicians being involved, which trumps engineering judgment.

So, that brings me to my question. Is a flyover at 280 and I-459 back on the table and if so, when would it be implemented? As I stated earlier, since the flyover had been started before (ROW’s had to be obtained, etc.) then I assume the only thing standing in the way is backing and funding. This is sorely needed and would be a big improvement to 280 traffic. When you consider the present cost to individuals and businesses that are caused by the problems with 280, it would seem that this project would be a top priority. ALDOT and the state might even get funding help just by asking. I know that I would contribute.

US 280 / I-459 interchange from Google Maps.

US 280 / I-459 interchange from Google Maps.

Yes, there has been talk about an US 280 flyover at the I-459 interchange. As of right now, there are two traffic signals governing the traffic coming off I-459 and getting on I-459.  On one side, you will find an intersection with 11 red lights!

Back in 2014, several trees were taken down to plan building the flyover, but nothing has been done since then.  The reason why nothing has been done is because of a lack of funding. From this story from WBRC, ALDOT says they need $50 million in funding to build one flyover from US 280 west to I-459 south.  The flyover project could be years away, or might not happen at all.  It all depends on politicians and road funding.

Now, to make you even less secure about a flyover ever being built.  This story from the Anniston Star talks about how road funding will be the next big battle in the Alabama Legislature.  And given how there are many of these so called “Tea Party no new taxes bozos” in the legislature.  The future of the US 280 flyovers, or any other new roads in Alabama, looks very bleak!

But hey, you can say we have one of the worst road systems in Alabama!  You can also say we have one of the worst and corrupt DOT’s in America!  That’s Alabama for you.  All I can say is enjoy sitting in the US 280 traffic for years to come, I hate saying that!

Roadscapes Wednesday: Several Quintard Avenue Traffic Lights Are Still Malfunctioning


Roadscapes Geek Alabama

This week on Roadscapes Wednesday, I wanted to update the progress on the Quintard Avenue paving project, and the screwed up traffic signals.  Because they had to install ramps on the sidewalks and tear up the traffic light loops months before the repaving was done.  The repaving is finished!  And the permanent paint lines are going down.

roads 006

It looks like all of the traffic light loops were re-installed.

roads 001

BUT, all the lights are still not acting right!  For example, this light at 22nd Street is still malfunctioning.

roads 005

And the light at 17th Street is still malfunctioning.

roads 011roads 015

And the left turn signals at 18th Street, 12th Street, and 10th Street are still malfunctioning.

roads 008roads 021roads 035

So Anniston, when are you going to go to the boxes that controls the traffic lights and correct these problems?  Drivers have grown tired for almost a year now with mistimed traffic lights!  The lights are on a state highway, but I believe the city of Anniston maintains the traffic lights.  I mean, it’s not just the traffic signal loops being broken, there are several nearly burned out ped signals that needs to be fixed too!

roads 025roads 031

And sadly, some of the ped signals have been burned out for months, or even years!

roads 027roads 029roads 073

Come on Anniston, this is showing people that Anniston is some kind of run down city.  For the busiest road in Anniston and Calhoun County, this needs to be fixed ASAP!