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June 28, 2014

City Officials express concern about Hwy 278/4th Avenue intersection

CULLMAN — The four-way intersection of U.S. Highway 278 and 4th Avenue in Cullman is the site of the next-to-last traffic light for drivers heading out of town. Since speed limits change sharply and the road widens and narrows quickly nearby, this intersection has become a dangerous spot for drivers.

“We had a total of 9 accidents [there] last year,” Chief Kenny Culpepper of the Cullman Police Department said.

That number of accidents, Culpepper added, is “increasing” year to year, due to increasing traffic in town.

Because of the hilly nature of the roads on Highway 278 near the intersection, Culpepper said, drivers coming from town are “not looking at the light,” and not noticing that the road narrows from four lanes, to three lanes, to two.

“We’ve talked about a slightly longer [traffic light] delay” at the intersection, Culpepper said. “Another suggestion was extra signage.”

For drivers coming into Cullman on Highway 278, the speed limit goes from 65 miles per hour, to 55, to 45 just before the intersection, Culpepper said. Currently, the lone stoplight on Highway 278 from the Berlin community to 4th Avenue is at Convent Road, near Eastside Baptist Church.

Culpepper said the permanent solution would be for the highway to become a four-lane road all the way from Berlin to Cullman, so there won’t be as much of a bottleneck.

Currently, Highway 278 narrows to two lanes from St. Bernard Abbey to 8th Avenue, and is three-laned from 8th Avenue to 4th Avenue.

Cullman Mayor Max Townson said that the 278/4th Avenue intersection was one of the first traffic warning areas he told his wife about after they moved to Cullman.

“One of the dangerous aspects is that coming from 3rd to 4th Avenue, there’s a drop-off,” Townson said. “People tend to accelerate.”

The mayor also expressed hope for the widening of Highway 278. The project is one of the foremost items on the agenda for local legislators such as State Senator Paul Bussman, Townson said.

Townson said that the property for a 4-lane highway has been procured by the State of Alabama since the 2011 tornadoes came through the area.

“It’s much needed,” he said. “I’ve always talked about safety, and when we get that done it’ll be a much safer intersection there.”

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