Exercise patience during downtown intersection work

Published 3:31 pm Friday, March 27, 2015

Your life flashes before your eyes as a wide-turning log truck swings into your lane, or you hold your breath as a semi-trailer scrapes against a metal utility pole, causing traffic lights and power lines to bounce and sway.

Most of us have been there, and so we can probably agree that a project to widen the intersection of Seventh Street North and Fourth Avenue North, or U.S. Highway 31 and Alabama Highway 22, in downtown Clanton is needed.

But forgive our lack of excitement about the pending start to the work, because it will mean several month’s worth of headaches.

The intersection will be closed an estimated 140 days beginning in early April. In the meantime, traffic will be detoured around the heart of downtown Clanton (read the story for details and a map of the detours).

While it seems that state officials have come up with about as good of a plan as could be expected, there will still almost certainly be problems. Traffic will flow, but it will likely take longer to travel anywhere in Clanton. Downtown streets will remain open, but business owners could still see their operations suffer.

The most serious scenario, however, is if another factor is added to the mix. How will traffic avoid a complete standstill if a train blocks the Jackson Avenue railroad crossing, which is part of the detour, given that the only railroad overpass will be closed? What will happen if an Interstate 65 closure forces that traffic onto Highway 31, and thus the detour?

We’d rather not think about that, and we’re not sure there are answers to those questions, anyway. Instead, let’s focus on what it will take to get through these 140 days: patience.

Clanton Police will have officers assigned to downtown traffic. It will be important that we all work with the police and with each other.

We’ll all be moved to bang the steering wheel, shake a fist out of the window or honk a horn at some point, but that won’t help. We’re all in this together, so let’s make the best out of it and look ahead to a time when we don’t have nightmares about turning trucks.