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: 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: Traffic Light Goes Down


Roadscapes Geek Alabama Geek Alabama Christmas 2012

When I got back to my apartment on Christmas night I saw the traffic light across the street at the intersection of Greenbrier Dear Rd. and Hillyer Robinson Pkwy. was out.  I thought maybe the power went out so I went to investigate and I saw this!

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It was raining and the roads were wet.  A car somehow went into a skid and crashed into the traffic light box.  The crash knocked the box over and it resulted in the traffic light going dark.  Somehow the driver did not crash into the two poles as he was in between.  This accident happened around 11:00 pm Christmas night and soon the cops came.

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The car did a lot of damage to the traffic light box that controls the traffic light.  There was nothing that could be done to save this traffic light box.  Poor thing!

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The city put out a temporary stop sign at the intersection.  Yes, the stop sign was being held down by a rock.  Christmas night was very windy so I would not have been surprised if the stop sign was knocked over.

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The good news is by the next morning a brand new traffic light box was installed and the traffic light was working again!

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Also, I noticed a caution light that was not attached on its pole.  I found this off Henry Road today.  Yes it still blinks!

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Roadscapes Wednesday: Anniston Road Trouble


I recently met the new mayor elect of Anniston Vaughn Stewart.  And I was glad he knew about me and this blog Geek Alabama.  So after he told me I was a big road geek (thanks) I went around to trouble spots in Anniston that needs addressing.  First I made another video showing all of the traffic light problems I found.  This first video shows how many people just ignore a traffic light with the power out.  And the second video shows traffic light problems along Noble St. and Quintard Ave.

So let’s first talk about the road paint lines.  I took these photos along Coleman Rd. and yes you can not even tell where the road paint lines should be at!

Also along 10th Street and Noble St. where they repaved the road.  They have not added the permanent road paint lines yet!  Months later and now it is getting hard to see where the center line of the road is at.  If you can’t see the road paint lines it makes the road very dangerous!

I also can’t get this out of my mind.  Last time the city went around to re-paint the road lines.  They painted some of the lines yellow when it should have been white.  One example is at Red Morris Pkwy.

Also along Red Morris Pkwy. and Spring Valley Rd. there are some very bad dips along the road that can cause a flat tire!  Why have these road problems not been fixed yet?

Up Golden Springs Rd. I approach the new intersection at Henry Rd. that is fast becoming a death trap.  What needs to happen is those yield signs needs to be replaced with stop signs.  And stop signs needs to be placed where traffic turns left onto Henry Rd. as well!

And what about this school signal along the old portion of Henry Rd. to slow traffic at The Donoho School.  This is just too funny!  And yes; it needs to be moved!

In downtown along Noble St.; some of the ped signals are burned out.  And some of the ped signals are turned away and not facing the people wanting to cross the street.  And I even tested the push buttons at 10th Street/Noble St. and some of them don’t even work!  So in my opinion; all of the traffic lights in downtown along Noble St. needs to be checked and re-timed.

Last thing; when I travel down Quintard Ave. I sometimes see someone who has to try to cross this road at a traffic light intersection without the aid of ped signals.  Sure some intersections have ped signals but why don’t the other traffic light intersections along Quintard Ave. have ped signals?  This needs to change!

I would encourage the new mayor of Anniston Vaughn Stewart to allow me to show him the other road problems I know about in Anniston.  Anniston’s streets have been neglected for a long time and it needs to be changed!