DELMAR - A railroad crossing at County Roads 62 and 3505 has proven dangerous for motorists, especially larger trucks that turn into the opposite lane of Highway 13 in order to navigate their heavy loads.
Therefore, the Winston County Commission is seeking funding assistance from state legislators to provide widening and drainage improvements to county roads 62 and 3505, according to Commissioner for District 2 David Cummings.
Cummings met with Road Engineer James Glasgow and State Representative Tim Wadsworth Tuesday, Oct. 17, at the site of concern.
Larger trucks are being encouraged to travel from Atlaco, LLC on County Road 3505 in order to reach Highway 13, when entering and exiting the area, according to Latrelle Kittrell, owner of Atlaco, which operates in the timber industry.
Atlaco, which has a sawmill in Vernon and woodyards in Delmar and Fayette, buys standing timber from other companies in Winston, Lawrence, Marion, Franklin, Fayette and Walker counties, turning around and rehauling the timber to International Paper locations in Prattville and Selma, Kittrell stated.
Each truckload of timber has a requirement of 88,000 pounds, as they are encouraged to travel County Road 3505 to reach the highway, Kittrell emphasized.
“(The road) needs to be widened and fixed. It used to be a woodyard 30 years ago,” Kittrell noted. “The road has held very well. It was just as bad before we started as we started now.”
Kittrell pointed out the railroad crossing area is dangerous.
“The road needs to be closed anyway,” Kittrell pointed out. “You can’t see. You will get run over. I encourage (the trucks) not to go out that way because it is an accident waiting to happen. It is not if; it’s when.”
However, the larger trucks sometimes leave the logging operation, cross the Norfolk Southern railroad crossing and go up a steep embankment before coming to the stop sign at Highway 13, state and local officials observed while at the scene.
When turning from County Road 62 onto Highway 13, there is limited sight distance for traffic traveling north, as trucks have to do wide turns into opposite lanes in order to get out into the highway, county officials explained.
“It’s not safe for trucks to pull in and out of 13 because it’s not long enough between the tracks and the road,” Cummings pointed out. “In pulling out and heading south, they have to get in oncoming traffic.”
County Road 3505, which leads about a half mile from the timber yard to Highway 13, needs to be wider since so many large trucks use that road to access the highway, county officials added.
“We have school buses on the road that meet the trucks. This is why we’re asking our representatives to help us secure the funding to redo the drainage and widen the roads coming in and out of the industry,” Cummings continued.
The idea is to keep personal, smaller vehicles using County Road 62 while larger trucks would be restricted to using County Road 3505, according to Cummings. The estimated cost of such a project is around $750,000, but the county is limited in its funding, according to Glasgow.
“We don’t have extra funds with Rebuild Alabama,” Glasgow pointed out. “They are already allocated. We can’t accomplish it without other sources of funding.”
Rebuild Alabama provides funds generated by the gasoline tax, which can be used on roads and bridges, according to state officials.
If the county can obtain state funding for the project, the railroad crossing at County Road 62 would be closed off to large trucks, which would be diverted to 3505 leading to the intersection with Highway 13, Glasgow stated.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.