Dunlap/Jefferson intersection situation explained by city councilman
Two accidents occurred within two hours of each other earlier this month at the intersection of Dunlap Road and North Jefferson Street, further igniting conversation about the need for safety improvements in the area.
As it turns out, though, the conversation isn't anything new. City Councilman Steve Chambers, whose district includes that particular intersection, told Baldwin2k News that people periodically have asked him about it for years. There have been "conversations" at City Hall about the intersection over the years, most notably when a developer was interested in building an apartment complex in the area roughly 15 years ago. The developer aimed to purchase the undeveloped piece of property just to the east of Jefferson and across from the dead-end of Dunlap.
At the time,the developer and the city government consulted with the Department of Transportation about the feasibility of installing a four-way red light at the intersection, with the idea being that the new apartments would increase traffic in the area. The apartment complex never happened, however, and neither did a red light.
Essentially, the DOT relayed to city leaders that "a red light wouldn't work there" due to both the slope and the curve of Dunlap Road, as it approaches the Jet store and the stop sign. The DOT, years ago, suggested constructing a new, flatter and straighter stretch of Dunlap closer to Carrington Woods, which theoretically would take care of the visibility issues. In this scenario, the Dunlap/Jefferson red light would be located closer to the Hancock Court apartments, which is the development between Holly Hill Road and Dunlap.
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However, for this to one day happen, whether it's next year or 20 years from now, it would require a significant amount of money, relative to the city government's tax coffers. Dunlap and that particular stretch of Jefferson are both "city roads," and "there probably wouldn't be any state money available for that project," according to City Manager Hank Griffeth.
For perspective, the Kings Road/Stembridge Road roundabout cost the county government roughly $170,000, with no financial assistance from the Department of Transportation. The roundabout project wasn't nearly as complex and intensive, relative to constructing an entire new stretch of Dunlap Road, acquiring the necessary "right-of-way" property and installing a brand-new intersection and red light.
Griffeth lives off of North Jefferson Street, and he drives through the Dunlap/Jefferson intersection hundreds of times per year. He said that he "understands people's concerns."
"The thing that folks have to remember is that there would be some major engineering costs associated with something like that," the city manager said.
A good start might be to reduce the 55mph speed limit as you approach the intersection traveling south on Jefferson. Only after you go through the intersection does the limit change to 45. Hard to believe but that’s the signage as it’s been for years.