Dangerous curves: Intersections cause concern

Published 2:00 am Saturday, September 7, 2013

Confusion, speed and simple distractions have all been blamed for a number of crashes around the community that have resulted in everything from no injuries to some serious injuries and even death.
In recent months, several crashes along a stretch of U.S. 31 north have been a cause for concern for area motorists. As recent as Tuesday evening, five people were injured in a three-car crash near the Kirkland Road intersection along the roadway.
Polls posed by The Brewton Standard have resulted in comments from motorists concerning several areas of concern throughout the community.
With several comments pointing a concerned finger at one downtown intersection, the spot has been called confusing and awful.
When asked which intersection in the area was most dangerous, Shawn Lundy echoed the sentiments of many comments on The Brewton Standard’s Facebook page.
“Belleville and 31,” Lundy wrote. “With the turning lanes no one knows how to use, every other car crossing from Belleville to East Brewton, then from East Brewton turning left but not supposed to. Just sit in Billy’s Barber Shop” and watch.
One spot along U.S. 31 is a point of concern for many drivers. Lisa Hardy said the area where the lanes widen into three lanes is a sore spot for many.
“The three lanes between Kirkland Road and the Country Club” are dangerous, Hardy said.
Many other spots throughout the community got a few votes, including the intersection of Alabama 41 and Jay Road/Travis Road in Riverview.
The caution light in Riverview is bad,” Lindsey Lynn said. “There was almost a wreck there (Thursday). A car pulled out off of Jay Road right in front of someone and they had to pass them to keep from hitting them.”
Other spots noted as being dangerous areas or intersections included the entrance lanes at Walmart, turn lanes along Forrest Avenue at Shoffner Street, the intersection of Forrest Avenue at U.S. 29, and stretches of Travis Road.
State officials say there is little that can do in many cases, especially along the stretch of U.S. 31 near Kirkland Road.
Daniel Driskoll with the Alabama Department of Transportation, said a traffic signal at the intersection of Kirkland Road isn’t feasible due to the traffic flow in the area.
“Traffic signals are never installed for speed control,” Driskoll said Thursday. “There nine things we look at to determine if a traffic signal would be beneficial in an area. Speed control isn’t one of them.”
Driskoll said he understands the concern of drivers who travel along the area in question, but control of the situation must come from somewhere other than Department of Transportation officials.
“Enforcement is the tool that needs to be used there,” Driskoll said. “Patrols need to be in the area and do their part by getting out there and writing tickets.”
That tool is one that has been beefed up — especially after the crash Tuesday. A reserve officer with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department was on patrol and watch Wednesday and Thursday of this week moving along a five-mile stretch of U.S. 31.
“I live out this way and I see it,” Ed Howington said. “As long as I don’t get pulled off for other emergency duty, I’m going to be out here to let people know we’re watching.”
Howington said deputies had already written citations along the stretch under patrol.
An intersection in the East Brewton area has also been the scene of a recent crash. That crash also raised the question about the removal of a traffic signal at the intersection of U.S. 29 and Alabama 41 (Forrest Avenue and Florida Street).
“Some traffic signals are removed because their purpose was served,” Driskoll said. “Maybe the traffic dwindles in the area and the signal no longer meets the thresholds we have in place. Sometimes the removal of a signal improves operations in the flow of traffic. Sometimes signals can be deemed more of a nuisance, especially if it causes a delay in the flow of traffic.”
Officials in East Brewton say the traffic signal was removed sometime in the early 1980s. No plans are being made to re-install the signal at that intersection.

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