(Updated) Gudger, Shedd speak about need for red light at Hwy. 157/Hwy. 278

Multiple agencies responded to a two-vehicle wreck at Alabama Highway 157 and U.S. Highway 278 Sunday evening, June 7, 2020. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

Updated 6-9-20 at 6:06 p.m. with a statement from ALDOT

CULLMAN, Ala. – After a fatal two-vehicle collision at the intersection of Alabama Highway 157 and U.S. Highway 278 Sunday evening, many Cullman County residents have renewed their calls for a traffic light to prevent further casualties and wrecks at the location, which many say is dangerous. The Tribune spoke to Senator Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman and Rep. Randall Shedd, R-Fairview to hear their thoughts on the idea.

“I believe it warrants a light, but that procedure to obtain a light at an intersection is already in place,” said Gudger. “The procedure is as follows: ALEA (Alabama Law Enforcement Agency) will write you a report and turn it in to ALDOT (Alabama Department of Transportation). ALDOT, after finalizing the report, will do more fact findings to gather the information from everything on the quantity of cars to the speeds and direction vehicles are traveling and turning. After that process is completed, ALDOT will be making the decision for installing a controlled light at that intersection.”

Shedd offered a similar explanation, stating that ALDOT will be the one to make a decision on the need for a light rather than city or county government or legislators.

“A red light might be the solution, but ALDOT will have to be the ones to make that call,” he said. “I know there have been a lot of incidents there, but I don’t know how they’re all related, if the causes are the same. ALDOT may know the common denominator, but they have to do a lot of research because sometimes a red light can make things more dangerous instead of less.”

One example of a recent controlled light installation is the intersection of Alabama Highway 69 and Wesley Avenue in Fairview, next to The Hutch.

Shedd stated, “I’d been pushing for a red light in Fairview for years and years, and a lot of changes had to be made to that intersection before it was eligible for a light. I think the best thing to do right now would be for folks to get in touch with ALDOT, and I’ll be doing the same.”

Gudger echoed that thought, saying, “I believe we would agree to press ALDOT once again to get a controlled light at this intersection as well. After the recent horrific accident that has recently happened at this intersection, my heart and my prayers go out to the accident victims.”

ALDOT North Region Public Information Officer Seth Burkett said the agency is aware of the heightened concern about the intersection.

“We’re aware that a number of people are concerned about this intersection, including Senator Gudger and others who have reached out,” he said. “We welcome comments and would like to direct those through the ‘Report a Road Concern’ feature which can be found at https://cpmsapps2.dot.state.al.us/RoadConcerns/ on our website.

“An intersection must meet warrants for signalization set by the Federal Highway Administration. The intersection of U.S. 278 and Alabama 157 has not previously met warrants for signalization, but we will review it again. Right now, we’re awaiting the results of the investigation into Sunday’s crash. We’ll look at factors involved in this crash as well as previous crashes to see if there is a pattern of crashes that would be reduced by a signal.

“However, crashes are not the only consideration in determining whether a traffic signal is justified.

“There is often misunderstanding about the role traffic signals play in safety. Although traffic signals can reduce some types of crashes, they typically increase other types of crashes and often increase crashes overall.”

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Heather Mann