Changes needed at intersection

Published 6:00 pm Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Plans were made by the Alabama Department of Transportation more than two years ago to improve the downtown Clanton intersection of Seventh Street and Fourth Avenue, or Alabama Highway 22 and U.S. 31. After a log truck Tuesday struck and snapped a utility pole while making the tight right turn onto 31 South, it might be time to put that plan in motion.

The intersection is a daily headache for those that drive commuter vehicles, and we shudder to think of having to navigate the intersection in a log truck or a dump truck.

While we’re on the subject, it would help if we were more considerate of those driving large trucks. These vehicles need room to make turns, so don’t always race up to the traffic light then slam on the brakes. Approach intersections such as the one at issue slowly, and be prepared to stop early — behind of the marked line — to give a truck more room. It might also be necessary sometimes to allow a car in front of you room to back up.

But the tight turn and discourteous drivers don’t excuse Tuesday’s driver from leaving the scene because he or she created problems for many others.

Of course, local police officers had to spend time looking for the truck (to no avail yet) and rerouting traffic away from the intersection and Alabama Power workers had to replace the broken pole. Also, the incident knocked out power for 1,639 Clanton residents.

To avoid such problems in the future, something has to be done about the intersection. The plan that came out of a public hearing held by state officials was to demolish the older buildings on three of the intersection’s four corners and then widen the intersection. This will help if utility poles are moved back as well.

There doesn’t seem to be a sensible detour available because trucks will have to make a right turn somewhere no matter what, and any alternate routes would also probably involve crossing railroad tracks and a bridge.

It looks like we’re stuck with the intersection, so changes have to be made. And the sooner, the better.