ALDOT

Cliff Williams / The Outlook Members of the public were invited to take a look at a proposed master plan of what the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) wants to do to make U.S. Highway 280 safer from the Coosa County line to Dadeville. The includes closing some crossovers, moving turn lanes to give better sight lines and to only allow right turns at many developments and roads crossing U.S. 280.

It seems almost everyday an accident occurs on U.S. Highway 280 at Coven Abbett or Dean roads or in the crossovers near shopping along the 280 corridor in Alexander City.

To help make the stretch of U.S. Highway 280 safer from the Coosa County line to near the Highway 49 intersection in Dadeville, the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) is proposing a master plan.

“Our goal is to look at all of it and identify conflict areas,” ALDOT East Central Region Engineer DeJarvis Leonard. “We try to eliminate as many conflict points as we can and create safe movements.”

Conflicts happen in crossovers when roads such as Dean Road cross U.S. Highway 280. Traffic trying to cross 280 or turn left onto 280 interferes with traffic travelling U.S. Highway 280 in at least three lanes and sometimes four. The idea with the Dean Road crossing is for traffic on Dean Road to only be able to turn right. The idea is similar with many crossings and crossovers.

“The purpose is to try to eliminate conflict points as much as possible,” Leonard said. “Our research shows when there are multiple conflict points at an intersection, drivers have a tendency to make errors. When they make errors, they create a crash and those crashes create injuries and fatalities.”

Drivers wanting to travel westbound on U.S. Highway 280 from Coven Abbett would need to turn right then make a u-turn to travel westbound. A similar change is being proposed for Dean Road. The plan also proposes closing the Dadeville Road entrance to U.S. Highway 280 and create a new road further west allowing access to Dadeville Road.

Shoppers at Winn Dixie, Hibbets, McDonalds, and Burger King would be forced to turn right from the parking lots before making a u-turn to travel westbound. The movement would be similar at Ruby Tuesday and Taco Bell. Traffic on U.S. Highway 280 would be allowed to make left turns into the developments with channelized crossovers.

“That one has been problematic at times,” Leonard said. “It is challenging.”

ALDOT has been doing this type of work on U.S. Highway 280 in the last year or so in Childersburg.

The public was invited to see proposed changes ALDOT wants to make. Skipper Consulting’s Darrell Skipper has helped with similar projects across the state and each one has a starting point.

“The first thing we look at when we do these plans is where the emergency department (ED) for the hospital is,” Skipper said.

The plans were laid out on tables for the community to see Tuesday night and Russell Medical CEO Jim Peace said the entrance to the ED would not change.

“It doesn’t really affect us,” Peace said.

City leaders were there also taking a look at the plans. Alexander City public works director and city engineer Gerard Brewer said the changes come with a cost beyond the financial cost of the project.

“It will affect police and fire with response times a little bit maybe, but if it makes it safer,” Brewer said. “We generally want it.

“We don’t want to hurt business either but we can’t solve it for everyone. If safety is No. 1, it’s hard to argue with it.”

Tuesday’s open house style meeting was meant to be informal to gain more insight into what changes could be made to make U.S. Highway 280 safer and to make planned access points to the roadway known.

“The purpose of this is to create a working document or master plan so that ALDOT, the cities and others as development occurs, we have an agreed upon master plan,” Leonard said. “If someone comes in they know what the access is going to be. We will make some changes but we want to make sure we get the master document approved.

Leonard said this work is not yet funded but hopes it would be completed in the next five years.

“Some of the work we will do in house, some we may let to contract,” Leonard said. “The long-term plan is for everybody to be together on a master plan.”

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.

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