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Residents express concern for road safety

After a letter to the editor in last week’s Franklin County Times, citizens began chiming in with their thoughts relating to issues of speeding and safety on County Road 22. The opinion piece, written by Scott Montgomery, garnered 41 comments, 55 shares on Facebook and two calls to the Franklin County Times’ office.

The majority of comments on Facebook talked about issues of speeding and concerns over whether large commercial vehicles were allowed to drive a residential road.

Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver said there is not a law that prohibits commercial vehicles from traveling through the area.

County engineer David Palmer said he had several people reach out to him with concerns about the road and its safety. He said the last major resurfacing project to the road was in 2006; it was a federal aid project, for which the road had to meet a rigid set of standards to be approved.

He said the road is paved the standard width of a county road, so it is not as wide as a state road with higher traffic count.

However, Palmer said after hearing concerns over road safety, he reached out to a group in Montgomery about some of the concerns he had heard. He said this group, in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Transportation, had already planned a visit to look at other roads in the area to address safety concerns.

Palmer said he requested the group view County Road 22 as well, while they are in Franklin County.

“If there’s something there that they feel warrants some type of safety funding, or something to that affect that could be done to upgrade that specific area to better accommodate that type of traffic, they’ll make their recommendations,” Palmer said.

He said this group will also help find funding to fix any issues they find with road safety.

He said there is no specific date when the group is supposed to visit, but he expects them sometime at the end of this year.

Palmer said he is working to address safety issues, but he said the majority of problems he has heard occur from driver error and speeding.

“It’s a typical county road, which tends to be not as wide as state roads,” Palmer said. “They generally, from a geometric standpoint, are not able to sustain speeds like some of the more heavily-traveled state and federal roads can. That’s why those roads typically have lower speeds posted on those roads.”

Oliver said he has had several complaints through dispatch and has talked to one resident personally about the issue.

He said his office is aware of the issue and is doing everything possible with the number of officers the FCSO has.

“We patrol it as much as we can, and actually I have been through there three times today,” Oliver said. “I haven’t met the first truck on there. We see that it is a problem, but I can’t do much because I haven’t been able to find them.”

Oliver said he expects this is because most commercial vehicles communicate to let each other know if there is a law enforcement patrol in an area.

Oliver said if residents notice any vehicles speeding or driving recklessly on the road, the best thing to do is get a set of numbers identifying the vehicle, such as a license plate number or truck number, and report it to the sheriff’s office.