Traffic lights to be installed at dangerous Chelsea intersection

CHELSEA – Chelsea’s most dangerous intersection will soon see the addition of traffic lights.

Traffic signals will be installed at the intersection of U.S. 280 and Shelby County 39 at the shopping center anchored by Publix, Mayor Tony Picklesimer said.

The traffic lights would mark the conclusion of a process of working with the Alabama Department of Transportation for about two years, Picklesimer said.

“It comes down to traffic counts,” he said. “It has to meet certain criteria to be ‘warranted,’ which is the language they use, so we’re making a little bit of a change in front of Publix that is anticipated to make it warranted.”

The change would be to the eastern most entrance/exit of the shopping center. In the past, motorists have been able to turn left out of the shopping center to travel east on U.S. 280 and turn right to travel west.

However, that particular exit will be changed to right-turn only. Drivers needing to go west toward Chelsea Park or further down 280 will have to use the main exit, where the traffic light will be located.

The expected increase in traffic at the main entrance/exit will make it meet ALDOT’s criteria, and the state will provide half the funding for the installation of the lights, with Chelsea responsible for the other half.

The project is expected to cost a total of $100,000.

Picklesimer said he hopes the signals are installed by June 1, and the sooner the better because of the amount of wrecks that occur at the intersection.

Chelsea Fire Chief Wayne Shirley said there have been 69 wrecks at the intersection since August 2011, and that number includes only incidents directly at the intersection—not a wreck that could happen 100 yards down the road due to a situation at the intersection itself.

“That intersection is our hottest spot,” Picklesimer said. “We have more accidents there than anywhere else in the city.”

The addition of the traffic lights will also likely create a need to lower the speed limit on the stretch of 280 approaching the intersection, from 65 miles per hour to 55, Picklesimer said.