Commission reviews U.S. 280 study

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Shelby County Commissioner Larry Dillard is pushing for a cooperative effort from the county, state and a handful of cities along U.S. 280 to prevent the traffic problems associated with that route west of Hugh Daniel Drive from spreading all the way to the Coosa River.

&8220;We needed to do something,&8221; Dillard said. &8220;We need to get things moving.&8221;

Dillard and other commissioners on Monday reviewed an access management study calling for service roads along U.S. 280 in Chelsea, Westover and Harpersville.

The $200,000 study, conducted by the firm Gresham Smith and Partners, recommended possible courses of action to promote safety and traffic flow along the route.

&8220;Traffic on Highway 280 by the year 2025 is expected to double or better,&8221; said John R. Stewart, a vice president and civil engineer with Gresham Smith.

The access management plan would limit access points along U.S. 280, creating service roads parallel to the highway where customers could reach businesses along the route.

The plan also calls for more space between traffic lights (at least a mile between each signal) non-crossable medians, and the elimination of two-way left turn lanes often referred to as &8220;suicide lanes&8221;.

Under the plan, developers would pay for the service roads, which would be built as needed according to growth.

Temporary access could be granted to businesses where service roads are not yet needed, according to a suggestion from the consultants, under the agreement that driveways would be eliminated when a service road was later constructed.

City officials in Chelsea, Westover and Harpersville have said they would work together to prevent future traffic problems due to unmanaged growth along U.S. 280.

The county commission could vote to support the proposal next month.

The creation of a Capital Cooperative Improvement Authority is one option for the four governments to use for the implementation and management of the plan, according to Steve Ostaseski, a senior transportation planner with Gresham Smith.

Much of the plan hinges on support from the Alabama Department of Transportation, according to County Engineer Randy Cole.

&8220;ALDOT is a key player in this,&8221; he said.

Once the plan was adopted by county and city officials, the state would be asked to tighten restrictions on access permits for driveways and median cuts, Cole said