A big change could be down the road for people who drive through Sand Mountain. The cities of Albertville, Boaz and Guntersville got together to pay for a traffic study of Highway 431.
Don't expect to find out official details until meetings slated for February.
WAAY 31, though, uncovered the most significant recommendation from that study.
At times, driving near the south end of Guntersville’s 431 river bridge can be a tangled traffic mess.
"I've seen a few accidents with people pulling out of Lurleen Wallace Drive to get in the turning lane to go north across the bridge and end up getting broadsided," George Brannum told WAAY 31 News.
From his perch, Brannum has seen it all. He has a bird’s eye view of the 431 Tennessee River bridge. Brannum Real Estate & Appraisal sits at the foot the bridge between Gunter and Blount Avenues.
"They'll realize they're in the U-turn lane and they're too far back this way to go to Lurleen Wallace,” Brannum explained to us. “So, they'll either drive through the Chamber of Commerce parking lot or they'll just go down the wrong way."
Drivers have no choice but flock to this bottleneck.
Lurleen B. Wallace Drive connects with 431. Gunter and Blount Avenues converge into 431 at the same spot. They’re all tangled into one big knot.
WAAY 31 even caught an ambulance, with lights and siren blaring, having a hard time crossing from Lurleen B. Wallace to head north on 431.
There's the crossover that gets drivers from Lurleen B. Wallace to 431. Add turning lanes to the mix. Plus there’s a U-turn lane taking drivers headed northbound on Blount Avenue and connecting them to Gunter Avenues to move south. Both those avenues are 2-lane one-way streets.
"It's confusing to people who haven't done it before because when I give people directions to the office, they don't understand the concept of a U-turn I guess," Brannum told us.
To recap the confusing setup: three intersecting streets, two of those 2-lane one-ways, pouring into a major highway.
For some drivers, it’s for the birds.
"Coming behind the office, anytime it rains, you can count on there being an accident,” Brannum said. “Somebody will spin out and go right through this area right here."
The solution from the Marshall County Economic Development Council? A traffic roundabout.
Traffic engineers say a roundabout would slow down speeding traffic, cut the number of accidents and simplify a confusing intersection.
"Yeah, a roundabout might make that a lot less confusing," Brannum said. "I'd be anxious to see the plans for it. It would probably be a good improvement."
There’s another benefit to the proposed project. A roundabout would also create a grand entrance to Guntersville, perhaps with a fountain or monument nested in the middle.
Traffic engineers will reveal details at upcoming city council meetings on Sand Mountain. In Guntersville, the date is February 5th. Albertville’s council meets February 6th. And Boaz has its meeting on February 26th.
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