Council wants to lower speed limit on U.S. 31, to ask state for traffic study
By Deangelo Mcdaniel
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HARTSELLE — If you are a speeder on U.S. 31, the Hartselle City Council wants to slow you down.
In an effort to lower the speed limit from 50 mph between Lane Road and just north of Dairy Queen, Hartselle plans to ask the Alabama Department of Transportation to conduct a speed traffic study.
David Woods, who resides on Edgewood Street near U.S. 31, submitted a written request to the city for the study.
“It’s a safety issue and I wish you would act as quickly as possible,” he said.
Before Hartselle received his request, Mayor Dwight Tankersley and Jeff Johnson of the Department of Development had already talked about asking DOT to change the speed limit.
But would DOT make the change just because Hartselle requests it?
“They’ll come out and do the traffic study at their expense, but there has to be a reason for the speed change,” Johnson said.
According to city records, DOT posted the 50 mph speed limit before 1978.
Council President Kenny Thompson was a councilman in the early 1980s when the city requested a traffic study from the state.
“We wanted to lower the speed from 50 to 40, but the study apparently didn’t justify the change,” Thompson said. “A lot of things have changed, so it’s time for a new study.”
A daily average of 23,540 vehicles use the highway at the busiest spot in Hartselle, according to DOT’s latest count.
That compares to 30,000 or more vehicles a day that use U.S. 31 through a 40 mph zone in Decatur.
The biggest change is construction of the Wal-Mart Supercenter. The state installed a traffic light for the store, but since then, more than $15 million worth of development has occurred on U.S. 31.
One of the things Woods wants the city to do is determine the number of businesses that have located on U.S. 31 between 1978 and 2006.
“I’m sure it’s going to be substantial and we know it’s time for a second study,” Thompson said.
Woods is not the first to request that Hartselle do something about speeding and traffic on U.S. 31.
In July, former school board Chairman Ronnie Abercrombie ask the council to install a traffic light at Sparkman Street, Lane Road and U.S.31.
“We had one employee killed in the driveway (of our business) and that could have been prevented if a traffic signal was there,” Abercrombie said.
His family owns Abercrombie Chevrolet on U.S. 31. The fatality happened in November 1988.
Abercrombie and Woods said they realize that it will take time for the state to do the study. In the meantime, they want Hartselle to increase its police presence on U.S. 31.
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