Turn signals approved for 2 intersections
by David Atchison
PELL CITY — City officials entered into a contract with the Alabama Department of Transportation this week to install new left-turn signals at two intersections along U.S. 231.

City manager Patrick Draper said the city has agreed to maintain the new left-turn signals at the intersection of Hazelwood Drive, near Walmart, and Ninth Avenue North, adjacent to Iola Roberts Elementary School, once the new lights are installed.

“They (ALDOT) should start work on installing the light signals within a month,” Draper said.

Pell City Police Chief Greg Turley said he welcomes the installation of turn signals at those intersections on U.S. 231.

“Any improvements in those areas will improve the safety and flow of traffic,” he said.

Turley said his biggest concern is when traffic is entering and exiting Iola Roberts Elementary School.

Turley said his concerns are truck drivers who are not familiar with the area and not paying attention possibly plowing into cars waiting to turn into the elementary school.

Since the opening of Jefferson State Community College, St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital and Col. Robert L. Howard State Veterans Home, along with the opening of several new businesses on Hazelwood Drive, traffic has increased greatly at the intersection.

Turley said there have been numerous accidents at the U.S. 231 and Hazelwood Drive intersection, which also serves as the main entrance to the Bankhead Crossing shopping center, where Walmart is located.

There are other intersections the police chief said he has safety concerns about and the city is asking ALDOT to put up new traffic signals at those locations. Those intersections include Jeanne Pruitt Drive and U.S. 231, and at Hardwick Road and U.S. 78, near WKW Erbsloeh North America Inc.

“We have to take police officers off their beat to help with traffic there,” Turley said of the Hardwick Road and U.S. 78 intersection.

Traffic is extremely congested when WKW workers change shifts. Turley said traffic congestion at the U.S. 231 at Jeanne Pruitt Drive intersection is so bad, residents try to avoid that intersection completely, entering U.S. 231 at the intersection at Iola Roberts Elementary School. This puts more of a traffic burden near and around the elementary school.

Draper said a formal request was made this week to ALDOT for traffic studies at the U.S. 231 Jeanne Pruitt Drive intersection and at the Alabama 34, Cropwell Drive and J.T. Morton intersection, near the Pell City Civic Center.

He said the studies could take up to a year to complete.

Draper said the city requested a traffic study for the Hardwick Road and U.S. 78 intersection in September 2012. He said that study is expected to be complete in about a month.

The council is expected to hear a proposal at the next council work session for a study to help improve the traffic flow at First Avenue South and 19th Street, where a railroad crosses 19th Street.

Officials said a light is needed so it works in conjunction with the railway crossing to help prevent possible train/vehicle collisions.

Contact David Atchison at datchison@dailyhome.com.

© 2013