Concern for Traffic Safety Makes a Difference in Wilcox County
A dangerous intersection in Pine Hill caught the attention of Alabama Forestry Association (AFA) member foresters and timber-haulers in Wilcox County.
The intersection of Highway 10 and 5 was confusing to motorists. Two-lane Highway 10 had “STOP” signs, while four-lane Highway 5 did not. Many drivers claimed the wide intersection had the “feel” of a full-four way stop. “Near misses” and “close calls” were an almost daily occurrence.
Weyerhaeuser employees Clay Thomas (Area Manager) and Ed Kennedy (Harvest Manager) became concerned about the possibility of a potentially deadly collision. A phone call to the city of Pine Hill confirmed that the Mayor and Chief of Police had already noted the danger at the intersection. City officials had already discussed the issue with officials at the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), but were told that the intersection didn’t meet administrative guidelines for a traffic signal, and that there had not had been enough “incidents” to warrant additional signage.
Weyerhaeuser’s Ken Durand was not content to wait for a serious accident. Timber-haulers were driving through the intersection each day on their way to International Paper Company’s Pine Hill mill. While most of the truck drivers were aware of the danger, other motorists apparently were not. Ken believed a log truck-car collision was imminent, and he wasn’t ready to throw in the towel on a possible solution due to an arbitrary bureaucratic rule.
Ken called AFA for help. AFA contacted Joe Twardy at International Paper, who confirmed that there had been numerous accidents at the intersection over the years.
AFA arranged a site visit with ALDOT Division Engineer Jim Henley, ALDOT Safety Expert Tim Barnett, and David Leibold of International Paper. The meeting resulted in ALDOT’s agreement do a traffic count study to determine if additional traffic controls were necessary.
Persistence paid-off. ALDOT concluded that the danger of the intersection was worthy of additional traffic controls. Newly-implemented improvements at the intersection include elimination of a secondary turn lane and installation of signs to covert the intersection into a full four-way stop.
Safety awareness is standard operating procedure in our industry. However, in this case the determination and persistence of our members will no doubt prevent future accidents and possibly save lives.