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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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: Contraflow On US 431/ Anniston Eastern Bypass


Roadscapes Geek Alabama

This week on Roadscapes, I am featuring photos from a contraflow setup on US 431 in the Anniston area.  This area is under construction for a tie in of the Anniston Eastern Bypass.  Who knows when the construction will be complete, for now enjoy all the traffic going to one side of the 4-lane with a concrete wall separating traffic!

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Roadscapes Wednesday: Henry Road at Anniston Eastern Bypass


Roadscapes Geek Alabama

One intersection in Anniston has already been the talk of the area.  When a portion of the Anniston Eastern Bypass opened; Henry Road was moved to connect to the new roadway.  Sadly; it has not taken very long for accidents to occur at this intersection.  Several people are calling for a traffic light to be installed at this intersection.  The biggest problem is traffic is traveling south down the mountain at high speeds.  This causes a problem because much traffic has to turn left onto Henry Road.  Many close calls have been encountered including this one.

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ALDOT has installed caution lights before you reach the intersection.  But this does little to slow down traffic.  Could ALDOT also install caution lights over the intersection?

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Here is investigation lines from a past accident.  It did not take for an accident to occur after the road opened.

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The left turn lane for traffic to turn left onto Henry Road is not long enough!  At times, cars back up onto the left lane.  Traffic often pulls out in front of speeding traffic going downhill to turn left.  As you see below, there is ample room to extend the left turn lane and even add a second left turn lane.  When you turn onto Henry Road, traffic going north has 2 lanes.

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The right turn lane southbound to turn onto Henry Road is much longer!

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Traffic turning left onto Henry Road, not only has to manage fast-moving traffic coming down the mountain.  They also have some sight distance problems with all of those signs blocking the traffic’s view.

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And let’s talk about traffic turning onto the bypass.  Many drivers will turn right to head south.  This traffic has to yield but I witnessed several drivers not even turning their necks to see if traffic was coming.  They were relying on their driver side mirrors while not slowing down.  There are plans to add an acceleration lane but I would like to see stop signs replace the yield signs.

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Good luck if you are wanting to turn left onto the bypass from Henry Road.  Once the bypass fully opens, this intersection is going to become much more dangerous!

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ALDOT recently installed signs pointing drivers to historic downtown Anniston.

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And I am still pointing this out!  When the old Henry Road was taken out, they forgot the school zone signs.  Why has the city not moved this yet?

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In my opinion, this intersection is already dangerous.  If you think it’s dangerous now, just wait until the bypass fully opens and U.S. 431 traffic is coming down that mountain.  I believe ALDOT will have no choice but to install a traffic light at this intersection.  It’s going to be the only way to slow down traffic coming down the mountain.  Caution lights don’t work as well to slow down traffic.  Before this post ends, here are pictures of the Anniston Eastern Bypass or Veterans Memorial Parkway that is currently open.

 

Roadscapes Wednesday: Leon Smith Parkway


Roadscapes Geek Alabama

Leon Smith Parkway in Oxford is part of the Anniston Eastern Bypass.  And lately the parkway around I-20 and the Oxford Exchange has been seeing traffic problems.  For one, the traffic light at the I-20 eastbound ramp is malfunctioning.

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This light will turn red even if no one is waiting to turn onto Leon Smith Parkway.  This causes major traffic backups that often reach past the other intersections at the Oxford Exchange.  Green light time for Leon Smith Parkway is only 35 seconds.  It is not enough time for all the backed up traffic to get through the light.  Plus some cars will run the red light to not get stopped again.  See what I mean by watching the video below.

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At another intersection at Leon Smith Parkway and Jimmy Hinton Dr.  The traffic light for cars turning left onto Jimmy Hinton Dr. is not long enough.  Numerous cars just keep turning left after the green arrow period ends.  And then traffic on Leon Smith Parkway gets the green light and almost crashes into cars still turning left.  This video will show you what happens often at this intersection.

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Often there is a backup of cars wanting to turn left onto Jimmy Hinton Dr. that they block the I-20 westbound intersection.

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At times some cars stop on red way beyond the white line.  Trucks turning left onto Leon Smith Parkway has a problem with this.

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Since the traffic lights at the Jimmy Hinton Dr. and I-20 westbound intersections are not timed properly.  Traffic often will get the green light at one intersection only to get the red light at the next intersection.

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I have two big problems that needs to be talked about.  One, if you want to turn right onto Leon Smith Parkway from the I-20 westbound ramp it’s very dangerous.  Cars often pull out in front of other traffic and have to sometimes quickly cross several lanes of traffic to get into the left turn lane for Jimmy Hinton Dr.santa 070santa 077

My solution to this is to make the right turn lane a part of the traffic light.  That way people driving will not have to look way over their shoulder to quickly cross over to the left turn lane.

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The other problem is with Jimmy Hinton Dr.  So much traffic goes through here it often causes big backups!  One, there is no paint lines on the road.  This road is wide enough for a center lane so cars can turn left without blocking others.

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And the other big problem, at the Leon Smith Parkway intersection the set up is one lane is for traffic turning left and the other lane is for traffic going straight or right.  When only one car wants to go straight and the others wants to go right.  It backs up so much traffic that it blocks access to other businesses.

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So here is my change.  Make the left lane for traffic turning left or to go straight.  And have the right lane for cars only turning right.  This would solve these traffic problems.

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All four traffic lights needs to be re-timed and these intersection changes needs to be made soon.  Because when the Anniston Eastern Bypass is finished, this area will become very dangerous!  Get on it ALDOT and the City of Oxford.