Chelsea Council approves speed limit changes on U.S. 280
Published 9:54 pm Tuesday, April 5, 2016
By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer
CHELSEA – The speed limit changes coming to parts of U.S. 280 in Chelsea are different than what city leaders had initially requested from the Alabama Department of Transportation.
In a 4-1 vote, the Chelsea City Council passed on April 5 an ordinance to lower the speed limit on U.S. 280 from 55 to 50 miles per hour for nearly a mile starting at Alabama 47 toward Walmart, and to lower the speed limit to 55 miles per hour on a 1,000-foot section from the end point of the first stretch listed.
Council members Juanita Champion, David Ingram, Tony Picklesimer and Dale Neuendorf voted in favor of the ordinance, while Alison Nichols voted against it. Mayor Earl Niven was absent from the meeting.
Nichols said she did not think the specifications outlined in the ordinance were adequate for the safety of school buses transporting children to and from local schools, and noted the speed limit on one side of the highway differs from the speed limit on the other side in certain spots.
“I believe this causes a safety hazard,” Nichols said.
Neuendorf, Picklesimer and Ingram expressed concern about the ordinance differing from the city’s original request, but each said passing the measure would help Chelsea move forward in its efforts to make U.S. 280 a safer roadway for motorists.
“I’m going to reluctantly vote for it,” Neuendorf said of the ordinance before the council voted on it. “I think it is only one step toward what we need to get to … and it is certainly not what the residents want or what they expect to see based on previous information disseminated.”
At a March 15 pre-council meeting, Niven told the council he requested in a meeting with ALDOT officials that the 65-mile-per-hour speed limit on a nearly 3-mile stretch of U.S. 280 from Essex Drive past the Chelsea Park entrance would be lowered from 65 to 50 miles per hour. The speed limit in the area is 55 miles per hour to Walmart and 65 miles per hour from Walmart to Chelsea Park.
Niven also asked ALDOT about installing a left turn lane leading out of the intersection in front of McDonald’s, and a traffic light at the Chelsea Park entrance on U.S. 280, and said, “They still don’t want to put a signal there, but they are looking at something else to help that congestion.”
Neuendorf said ALDOT agreed on adding an acceleration lane out of Chelsea Park, and re-engineering of the intersection in front of McDonald’s.
“This is considerably less than what we presented as a request and than our first response from ALDOT,” Picklesimer said of the ordinance passed April 5. “This is progress. Not as much as we wanted, but it’s progress.”
Picklesimer said the city may petition ALDOT every 30 days for more changes to be made.
“I think no action would be a step backwards,” Ingram said of the ordinance.
In other business, the council:
•Decided to take no action on an ordinance regarding the de-annexation of Brogdon property in the Highlands subdivision in Pelham because of a paperwork issue.
•Decided to take no action regarding an ordinance to grant a franchise to the city of Pelham for the Chelsea Sports Complex water line.
•Approved a proclamation naming April 24-30 as Parental Alienation Prevention Week and April 25 as Parental Alienation Awareness “Bubbles of Love” Day in Chelsea.
•Watched an excerpt of Chelsea High School Theatre’s upcoming spring musical “Godspell,” which is based on parables of Jesus in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Performances will be held Friday, April 15 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, April 16 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students.
•Recognized three new members of Chelsea Fire and Rescue, Andrew White, Andrew Shears and Zack Lee. Chief Wayne Shirley read the Firefighter Code of Conduct before each member received his badge.
“The three of them have the best servant’s heart and personality,” Shirley said. “I think they’re going to be a great asset. All three are good, quality young men.”