Thursday, November 3, 2016

U.S. 98 Traffic Relief Project Delayed

Fairhope, Alabama

U.S 98 in Daphne, looking south


At its quarterly meeting last week, the Eastern Shore MPO Policy Board unanimously approved additional funding for the adaptive traffic signal project (click) along Highway 98 from Spanish Fort to Fairhope -- and the date the system is to go live and bring relief to traffic congestion pushed back to "about nine months to a year from now."

(A metropolitan planning organization (MPO) is a federally mandated and federally funded transportation policy-making organization in the United States that is made up of representatives from local government and governmental transportation authorities.)

Originally, "late 2016" was the projected completion date.
MPO Policy Board

After bids were solicited twice for the project last Summer, there was only one response from Bagby and Russell Electric Company and that was $820K over the estimated cost: the deficit is to be made up by $760K additional MPO funds plus a $160K match split between ALDOT and Baldwin county ($80K each).

Higher than expected 'CE and I' (construction engineering and inspection) and administrative cost over ALDOT's estimates were blamed for the over-run; ALDOT's representative Vince Calametti said individual components of the overrun were reviewed and found to be reasonable in this case.

Rather than delaying the project any longer by rejecting the bid and seeking new ones, it was decided to move forward, pay the extra and "try to do better vetting" next time.

When fully operational, control of the 28 separate traffic signals will be from a central location (ALDOT's tunnel station) to facilitate smoother traffic flow (adapt to current road conditions): wait times on side streets may increase somewhat but overall travel time should decrease after the system is "tweaked in."

(Adaptive traffic control is a traffic management strategy in whichtraffic signal timing changes, or adapts, based on actual traffic demand.)


Also, the board voted to add the following to its visionary list (a wish list, no funding source identified):

* A sidewalk along CR 1 south of Mullet Point
* A roundabout at the CR13/CR44 intersection
* New sidewalks in Spanish Fort


The divergent diamond interchange proposed for the HWY 181 at Interstate 10 could be installed as early as next April, according to Calametti, but prior to opening there would need to be a public education program about its operation.

Existing traffic signals will remain but traffic flow will switch sides on the bridge to facilitate smoother left turns and reduce accidents.

divergent diamond interchange


A class of Gulf Shores High School juniors on a field trip to observe county government in action asked a few questions at the end of the meeting.


Anonymous said...

I'm puzzled as to why they're wasting money on this. The last traffic study Mr Corte submitted to The zoning board said traffic had not increased and was not an issue.

Anonymous said...

Traffic did decrease on 98, in 2010 after CR 13 was completed and opened.

Anonymous said...

It should surprise no one that inadequate and likely completely fraudulent traffic studies are being submitted by developers who hire and pay the company that produces the study. Talk about the fox guarding the henhouse. Every traffic study should be independently verified and confirmed by the city - the cost to do so should be added to impact fees charged to the submitting developer.

Mark said...

Traffic hadn't increased?!?! HA! It's increased all around as more subdivisions get plowed in. The city's lust with development has only breed more traffic headaches. It's the same problem that's happened in Orange Beach. I think a traffic management system is a great idea, and a step forward from "the way we always done it". Another roundabout? Let's make it happen. I'm really pleased with how well people have adapted to the one on 48/13. Ya'll have made me proud.

Anonymous said...

Uh, when you build a new road (CR13) parallel to an existing road (US 98), traffic on the existing road goes down, as it did when CR 13 opened in 2010.

The first traffic study (for US 98) was done before CR13 opened, the second after, hence the decrease.

Total traffic still increased over time.

Anonymous said...

The MPO conducted the traffic studies. The results are on their website. These proposals are based on that traffic analysis.

Anonymous said...

What we really need is a ferry system across the bay.

Anonymous said...

A ferry system across the bay would only increase our traffic while lessening traffic on the Bayway & Causeway.

Anonymous said...

No. The ferry envisioned about 15 years ago was to be passenger only, with stops in Daphne, Fairhope and Gulf Shores al.

Anonymous said...

One thing is for certain though, building more ... and bigger and bigger ... bridges and roads ... only brings in more settlers ... ultimately ... and the cycle continues ... .

Some form of alternative transport is the real solution ... but this being backward Alabama ... that will never be considered ... until it is too late.

Anonymous said...

A ferry over the bay will only bring tourists/travellers who are trying to circumvent the 65/10 congestion. Great idea to turn Fairhope into a tourist turnstile between western states and the Florida Panhandle. No wonder Alabama is broke!

Anonymous said...

Again, the previous proposals were for a passenger ferry only ... no cars.

Pay attention please, if that is possible.

Anonymous said...

Need to think about taking out the red lights.

Anonymous said...

Has this issue been revisited?

Publisher said...

An MPO representative said recently the adaptive traffic signals on Hwy 98 are now in operation but will take some time to reach maximum efficiency.