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MONDAY, AUGUST 1, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Saving lives is the priority on dangerous Alabama 20

An overwhelming majority of DAILY readers who responded to an online poll favored closing medians on Alabama 20 near Interstate 65 for safety reasons.

They were reacting to a proposal by Gil Aldrich that was shot down by members of the Decatur Planning Commission, which he chairs.

Commission members are looking at the big picture, as they should be. They see both pros and cons in the median closings and other measures that Mr. Aldrich recommended. The cons include cutting off access to businesses, whose sales might suffer.

Mr. Aldrich, however, speaks with moral authority when he says that the frequency of accidents on that stretch of highway cannot be tolerated. "We need to keep hammering," he said. "It's unconscionable. We need to go on record as being upset about this."

The online poll is, of course, unscientific. Some would say it was oversimplified: The yes and no options on the question "Do you favor closing these medians?" left no gray area, no room for a nuanced response or a comment on other options.

But the number of people voting and the lopsided result — 439-82 for "yes" — suggest strongly that most people who travel Alabama 20 share Mr. Aldrich's concern about safety and want action.

The Planning Commission has a committee studying the situation, preparing to make recommendations to the City Council and the Alabama Department of Transportation. Mr. Aldrich hopes those recommendations will be ready within a month.

The commission must come up with a realistic plan that considers everybody's needs but puts priority on saving lives.

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