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?
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!
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.
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.
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.