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No funds allocated for intersection work

By By Mitch Freeman Madison County Record
No funding is allocated to resolve the most critical traffic safety project in Madison, which revolves around the intersection of Madison Boulevard and Wall Triana, according to City Engineer Jo Somers.
However, Somers said, the issue will be a topic of discussion during a city council work session, scheduled for June 11.
"The highest numbers of traffic accidents occur at this intersection," Somers said.
Traffic movement research by local traffic consultant Richard Kramer shows the biggest problem at this intersection to be west bound traffic, exiting from I-565 onto Madison Boulevard Traffic attempting to cross the Wall Triana through lane, and make a west turn onto Madison Boulevard causes a bottle neck for traffic attempting to exit I-565 and turn east onto Madison Boulevard
To remedy the problems at this intersection, Somers would add an additional turn lane, for traffic moving eastbound onto Madison Boulevard. Additionally, a second turn lane for traffic moving west bound onto Madison Boulevard would be installed on Wall Triana. The current combination through lane and westbound turn lane would be changed to a combination through lane and eastbound turn lane.
For westbound traffic exiting I-565, the result would be two dedicated, west bound Madison Boulevard turn lanes on Wall Triana, a through lane for northbound Wall Triana traffic, that also allows traffic to turn east onto Madison Boulevard and a dedicated turn lane for traffic turning east onto Madison Boulevard
An additional turn lane would be installed to facilitate southbound Wall Triana traffic, turning east onto Madison Boulevard. An additional turn lane would be installed to facilitate westbound traffic, turning south onto Wall Triana to access westbound I-565, from Madison Boulevard.
Somers said the additional turn lanes would allow the traffic lights at the intersection to be converted to conventional phasing, from split phasing, to increase traffic flow through the intersection.
Conventional phasing would keep all northbound and southbound traffic moving through the intersection at one time. All eastbound and westbound traffic would be kept moving through the intersection in a different movement phase, at one time. The current split phase approach results in intersection turning movement and through movement occurring separately, in a rotating fashion, using more time and causing delays.
Adding turn lanes and modifying traffic light timing and phasing would improve traffic capacity at the intersection by 30 percent, Somers said.
There would be no need to add a turn lane for eastbound traffic on Madison Boulevard, turning north onto Wall Triana, she said.
Somers estimates it would cost some $50,000 and perhaps two months to implement her plan to resolve problems at the Wall Triana, Madison Boulevard intersection. Design work has been completed and no property acquisition would be required.
To resolve the funding issue, Somers plans to ask city council members to shift capital improvement project money around to accommodate this project.
Construction is underway to remedy the traffic bottleneck at the intersection of Hughes Road and U.S. Highway 72. The problem at this intersection is traffic attempting to move southbound through the intersection onto Hughes Road, while northbound Hughes Road traffic attempts to turn west onto highway 72, Somers said.
Somers' remedy involves a turn lane and median rework, so the conventional traffic light phasing will complement traffic movement. In this case, all eastbound and westbound traffic movement occurs during one traffic light phase, and all northbound and southbound traffic movement occurs during a separate phase. This keeps traffic moving on highway 72, she said, but results in a bottleneck for north and southbound Hughes Road traffic, attempting to turn on to highway 72.
Funding is in place for the highway 72, Hughes Road intersection project, planned for completion during August, Somers said.
Somers said this project has been pending relocation of underground lines, and Bell South has just finished this work Recent bad weather has impacted this and other city improvement projects. BellSouth's priorities place resolution of customer service problems ahead of construction tasks, according to Somers.
Another traffic related project would relieve congestion at the intersection of Shelton Road and Madison Boulevard Somers said, an additional turn lane would be installed to allow southbound traffic on Shelton Road to turn east onto Madison Boulevard. Upon completion, there would be two turn lanes for eastbound traffic access to Madison Boulevard, a through lane to allow traffic to pass through the intersection to Zierdt Road and a turn lane for westbound access to Madison Boulevard
Traffic turning north onto Shelton Road from Madison Boulevard, would no longer be allowed to turn left, directly into the Texaco gas station/convenience store. Access would be allowed just north of the intersection, via entry into the Publix Shopping Center.
Funding is in place and completion of this project is anticipated by the end of August, Somers said. BellSouth has to move its underground lines before actual road improvement begins, perhaps in mid June.
Somers' other traffic relief plans include:
* The acceleration lane would be extended for traffic attempting south access onto Sullivan Street, from Royal Drive.
* A left turn lane is planned for Mill Street, to facilitate access onto County Line Road.
* Huntsville is said to be planning to widen Slaughter Road to three lanes. The anticipated center turn lane would facilitate northbound traffic flow on Slaughter.
* A "sight distance" problem would be corrected for traffic attempting to turn east onto Mill Road, from Moses Chapel Road. According to Somers, trees would be removed and land elevation that blocks sight to the east, would be lowered.
* Although, traffic control plans include a line item to facilitate traffic flow into and out of Heritage Plantation subdivision, to and from County Line Road, Somers sees no need to do anything.
Recently, striping was added to control traffic access to Sullivan Street, from Kyser Boulevard.
Somers estimates that $200,000 would fund her plans to solve these traffic problems. She said she would suggest to the city council that money earmarked for traffic lights be used for her geometric improvement plans, and that gas tax revenue be used for traffic lights, as intersections warrant them.
Somers said the average cost of putting a traffic light in service is around $40,000.
She said she follows national guidelines for traffic control and solicits advice for traffic problems from a consultant, who specializes in traffic flow and control.
"I try to do what's right for the city," Somers said.

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