New lane at Henry Road could make parkway route safer
by Paige Rentz
prentz@annistonstar.com
Jul 25, 2013 | 4178 views |  0 comments | 60 60 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alabama Department of Transportation employees ready the site to begin construction of an acceleration lane at the intersection of Henry Road and Veterans Memorial Parkway. Photo by Stephen Gross.
Alabama Department of Transportation employees ready the site to begin construction of an acceleration lane at the intersection of Henry Road and Veterans Memorial Parkway. Photo by Stephen Gross.
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A project to streamline the intersection of Henry Road and the southbound lane of Veterans Memorial Parkway may make commutes safer for many Anniston residents.

The Alabama Department of Transportation will begin work in the coming weeks to add an acceleration lane at the site. The new feature will allow motorists to get up to speed with traffic and merge onto the parkway.

“Hopefully it will prevent some of the fender-benders that have taken place at that intersection,” Mayor Vaughn Stewart said.

According to the Anniston Police Department, there have been 48 accidents at the intersection since February 2011, an average of 1.6 per month.

Stewart said citizens had commented on the need for changes at the intersection during last year’s campaigns and repeated those concerns at listening tours the council held earlier this year.

The mayor said the city contacted ALDOT last fall and began discussing the possibility of tweaking the intersection. He said they had hoped to begin construction in June to complete work by the time schools starts.

Rebecca Leigh White, spokeswoman for ALDOT, said once the project begins, it should take one to two weeks, weather permitting.

White said ALDOT crews will work on the intersection during the day, so there will be intermittent lane closures.

On Thursday, ALDOT workers were at the intersection installing a special type of fencing to prevent erosion at the site once work is underway.

“It’s refreshing. They jumped on it and were responsive to the needs of the neighbors and commuters who live and drive in that area,” Stewart said.

Ben Cunningham commutes through that intersection daily on his way to work at The Donoho School. From what he’s seen, he said the intersection appears to be dangerous whether cars coming from Henry Road are trying to merge southward or cross the parkway to head northward into McClellan.

For those trying to head northward on the parkway, the situation can be even more dire as they try to cross four lanes of often speeding traffic, he said.

“How do they navigate that maze safely?” he said.

Cunningham said fender-benders at the intersection are fairly common as cars queue up during high-traffic hours, but one afternoon he witnessed a major wreck there. He said he heard an awful screeching sound and turned to see a car pull out in front of a motorcycle traveling southbound on the parkway. It crashed into the car.

“Everything just exploded on the car, and the motorcyclist — he was just airborne,” he said, adding the windows disintegrated, airbags deployed and tires popped.

Cunningham said the parkway’s northbound turning lane going into Henry Road is too short and ought to be lengthened so more cars can safely queue there.

The addition of the acceleration lane, will have an effect simply because of the increase in traffic during the morning and evening,” Cunningham said. “It should have been designed in from day one.”

Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.

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