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Drainage ‘fixed' on U.S. 31

By By MARY-ALLISON LANCASTER – Managing editor
Officials hope drainage improvements installed last month deter the traffic accidents that regularly occur during heavy rains along a certain area U.S. Hwy. 31.
The accidents typically have occurred in the four-laned section of Hwy. 31 near Timberline Homes.  
On Jan. 17, there two wrecks within hours of each other in which rain appeared to be a contributing factor. No serious injuries were reported. At the time, Brewton Police Chief Monte McGougin reported that three wrecks had been reported in the same curve since Jan. 13.
Because so many wrecks had occurred at that area, McGougin sent a report to the ALDOT requesting immediate improvements.
Tony Harris, special assistant to the director of the Alabama Department of Transportation, said this week that ALDOT sent crews to the area Jan. 19 to install a drainage inlet. The work was concluded Jan. 25.
Local DOT crews will monitor the performance, he said.
Harris said that the area has gone through several improvements. He said that particular area had been resurfaced a few years ago, and he also reported that on May 3, 2004, local ALDOT officials erected &#8220slippery when wet” signs and posted a 35 mph advisory sign. The posted speed limit is 40 mph.
Harris said that while he is confident the drainage improvements will help mitigate the problem, there are several other factors that could account for accidents that occur at that area.
Harris advises the &#8220driving public” to be sure that tires are replaced when they begin to wear dangerously on tread, and to slow down when weather conditions are adverse.
Escambia County was under a tornado watch Thursday morning. McGougin said that no wrecks were reported Thursday.
Neither local law enforcement agencies nor the DOT could not determine exactly how many crashes have occurred at that particular area, or whether speed was a factor.
The DOT collects data on crashes, called hazard mitigation/elimination, but disclosing that information would be a violation of federal and state law, Harris said. However, he did say, &#8220We suspect speed might be a factor in some of the crashes that have occurred.”