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City to fix flow of traffic

By Evan Belanger ∑ 340-2442

Take a rush-hour drive down Decaturís two busiest thoroughfares and you will likely encounter the following: bumper-to-bumper traffic, construction delays and an average speed of commute less than 20 mph.

More than 33,000 vehicles travel both Sixth Avenue and Beltline Road daily in Decatur, according to the Alabama Department of Transportation.

Drivers could soon have a faster — and less stressful — commute, city officials say.

In February, the Decatur City Council voted in favor of an $80,000 traffic consultantís contract that could shave time off a cross-town trip.

The contract with Birmingham-based Skipper Consulting Inc. includes fieldwork, traffic counts, analysis, documentation, implementation and fine-tuning of traffic signals at more than 40 intersections.

In addition to timing lights to allow more efficient traffic flow, Mayor Don Kyle said, the contractor will help the city identify equipment needing replacement.

Kyle said Thursday that work is already under way, but it is not clear when the job will be finished. He said it will depend on how much equipment needs replacing.

ďItís not just a study. Itís actually a see-it-done type project for them, too,Ē he said of the consulting firm.

The project covers Sixth Avenue from Wilson Street to Cedar Lake Road and Beltline Road from Old Moulton Road to Country Club Road on Alabama 67.

According to a 2005 study conducted by the Institute of Transportation Engineers Associate, poor traffic-signal timing is a problem nationwide. It reports air pollution and commute time could be drastically reduced with as little as a $4 investment per vehicle each year.

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