Editorial: Hands on the wheel — Promising developments for local roads
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Jul 29, 2013 | 1832 views |  0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When it comes to roads, Calhoun County’s largest cities are beset with growing pains. It’s a byproduct of expansion.

In Anniston, Veterans Memorial Parkway remains The Eternal Project. Its first portion is complete. Its second portion is not. Residents are tired of hearing about the delays. The latest finish-date estimate is sometime in 2015.

In Oxford, the confluence of Interstate 20 and Alabama 21 is one gigantic mess: congestion, construction, large machinery. There may be no uglier stretch of urban roadway in the county.

But let out a big cheer for what’s on tap.

Last week, Alabama Department of Transportation crews began preliminary work on the Henry Road intersection with Veterans Memorial Parkway in Anniston. We’ll say the obvious: That intersection has needed a re-do since it was engineered as part of the parkway’s construction.

Drivers soon will have an acceleration lane to use as they exit Henry Road heading south toward Golden Springs and Oxford. Count us among those who are surprised there hasn’t been more accidents, even fatal ones, at that intersection.

Anniston Mayor Vaughn Stewart last week told The Star, “It’s refreshing. (ALDOT) jumped on it and were responsive to the needs of the neighbors and commuters who live and drive in that area.”

That handled, it’s time to do something about the menace that is Leon Smith Parkway and Friendship Road.

The details are well-known: Suburban and retail growth in that part of Oxford has increased traffic on Friendship Road — growth that’s only going to worsen as Oxford Exchange gains more tenants. The Friendship-Leon Smith Parkway intersection is a two-way stop with long straightaways on all four sides.

Ninety-three accidents, including one fatal crash, have occurred at the intersection since 2006, according to Oxford Police. Two years ago, Oxford Mayor Leon Smith submarined a worthwhile, $965,000 project that would have built a roundabout at the intersection. “I’m very against roundabouts,” Smith said at the time. Roundabouts, similar to the one near the McClellan fire station, are considered viable and safe options for dangerous intersections by traffic engineers.

Had the mayor and the City Council OK’d the project, Oxford would have been on the hook for only 20 percent of the cost. The Metropolitan Planning Organization would have paid for the remaining 80 percent.

Consider that a missed opportunity.

Nevertheless, we’re heartened that the Oxford council is moving ahead with plans to do something about that intersection. The council has agreed to hire an engineer who’ll study traffic patterns and offer recommendations — which, we assume, will call for installing a traffic light.

Should have been done a long time ago.
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