Study Shows U-Turn System Dramatically Reduced Severe Crashes on Alabama 182 at Orange Beach
(OBA®) – Orange Beach, AL – Study by summer intern proves midway system installed on Perdido Beach Boulevard in 2016 – though a headache and inconvenience at times – met safety goals that the state was considering for the once controversial project.
“We now have the numbers to say, and the claim from the start was why this was to reduce serious accidents,” said Mayor Tony Kennon. “Now we have data. “
Kennon spoke about the project at the August 3 regular and council meeting, although there was no action on the project. The board heard a presentation from Logan Lonsdale, a UAB political science student, on the differences between road crashes before, during construction and after starting the U-turn system.
“I hate not being able to make a straight left turn and I’m sure you hate hearing how people hate it too, but it saves lives and that’s the bottom line,” Lonsdale told the board during his presentation. . “It saves lives. “
Before construction, left-turn accidents accounted for 31.2% of all accidents, compared to less than 5% after the midpoint project was completed, Lonsdale said.
“Most of the 5 percent was due to misuse of the midpoint,” Lonsdale said. “This in itself proves that the great success of the mid-project was only in these numbers. It is enormous. These left turn accidents are the most serious in terms of property damage, bodily injury, injury and death. Dropping that number to less than 5% is huge for the city and a great accomplishment for the city and ALDOT.
During the study, Lonsdale also discovered:
- Left turn accidents reduced to near zero levels
- The increase in front-to-back crashes is an unfortunate but acceptable byproduct of the median improvement project.
- The effectiveness of this project should not be overlooked by the minor inconveniences it causes.
- Implementing reported mid-turns and eliminating direct left-turns saved lives.
“You’ve ruled out the possibility of someone being seriously injured or worse on this road,” Lonsdale said. “It’s a very busy section of road. This is a 1.7 mile stretch of road and I identified 313 crashes over a six year period, which takes into account a busy 1.7 mile stretch of road.
Lonsdale divided his research into three time periods starting with the 21 months before construction began or from January 2015 to September 2016. There were a total of 93 accidents, including 29 left turn accidents and 55 front-to-back accidents. . The rest were insignificant accidents for the study or did not involve two vehicles.
The second period was the 22 months from October 2016 to August 2018 during the construction of the improved median and there were a total of 101 accidents with only 12 left turn accidents and 75 front-to-back accidents. Again, the other accidents were insignificant or involved only one vehicle.
In the last 32 months between September 2018 and April 2021, only six of 119 accidents involved left turn movements and 73 were front to back.
“What’s great about it is that people aren’t taken away, there are no deaths,” Lonsdale said. “You don’t tow cars. These are minor accidents, scratches on the bumpers. People are moving away from it. In my opinion, this is an acceptable alternative to left turn accidents.
The increase in front-to-rear crashes has increased, but Lonsdale pointed out that these cause less damage to cars and injuries to drivers and passengers. He found that 11 percent of all front-to-rear crashes occurred on the right turn west from State Route 161 to State Route 182.
“There is a very high rate of accidents here and they all happened after median construction,” Lonsdale said. “Before that, there was no indication of a problem, as less than 5% were occurring at this location. It has to do with not only do you have to stop hard but you also have to factor in the crosswalk and you have oncoming traffic.
Kennon said the city will explore the right of way in the area in hopes of adding a merger lane on State Route 182 after the right turn at this location.
“I went over there and almost ran into someone and was bowled over so I know exactly what’s going on and I’m glad you brought it to our attention,” Kennon said. “With the merger path, I hope we can reduce that.”
Lonsdale is the son of Orange Beach Police Lt. Keven Lonsdale who commands the Patrol Division and Logan is a graduate of Gulf Shores High School.
“I can’t say enough about my experience with Logan because he is a very independent and motivated young man who comes from our community,” said city administrator Ken Grimes. “When he said he would like to do an internship here this summer to finish at UAB, I thought it was perfect and I said what do you want to do? It’s a type of research. We knew we were on the verge of having enough years of data to see if the median improvement is working. “
During the ordinary session, the council:
- Approved a resolution authorizing the purchase of a single source storm water pump to upgrade the Bear Point Lift Station from Jim House & Associates for the Public Works Department in the amount of $ 194,519.
- Approved the purchase of three vehicles for the Police Department, a 2021 Double Cab Ford F-150 pickup for $ 28,832 and a 2021 Dodge Charger for $ 24,589 for the Investigations Division and a 2013 Chevy Tahoe for the support services for $ 16,000.
- Special Event Retail Liquor License application approved by Event Concessions for “Whiskey Myers” to be held September 8-9 at The Wharf.
- Adoption of a resolution amending the compensation plan / employee job list to add the position of assistant building manager.
- Passed a resolution authorizing a franchise for Hoyer Rentals to remove and dispose of commercial solid waste and to remove and transport construction and demolition debris.
- Carried a resolution appointing Michael D. Davis, PE, and reappointment of Jeff Silvers to the Construction Adjustment and Appeal Board.
- Adopted a resolution adopting a transport plan for the city of Orange Beach for fiscal year 2022.
- Passed a resolution authorizing the execution of a work order with Watermark Design Group to provide design, tender and construction administration services for the replacement of the Town Hall roof as a result of the hailstorm of April 10 for an amount not exceeding $ 31,000.
- Passed a resolution declaring the garbage cans belonging to the City of Orange Beach as surplus and unnecessary and authorizing the donation of said property to the City of Centerville.
- Recognized the work of the Youth Summer Employment Program which is in its fourth year. Students have worked on backcountry trail maintenance, Sportsplex dealerships, Expect Excellence summer camp counselors, logistics, the landscape division of public works and the Wind Learning Center and some water. There were 28 workers aged 14 and 15.
During the working session, the council discussed:
- A resolution to accept a funding request of $ 237,000 for the Mako Arts, Academics and Athletics Club.
- A resolution authorizing the execution of a memorandum of understanding with the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau for the bureau to fund $ 1.2 million for the modernization of sports facilities.
- A resolution adopting the 2021 Baldwin County Multiple Risk Mitigation Plan.
- A resolution authorizing the execution of an agreement between the Baldwin County Commission, the Town of Orange Beach and the Town of Orange Beach Planning Commission regarding the exercise of subdivision bylaws under the planning competence of the municipal planning commission. This is in response to a new state law limiting the planning powers of municipalities to the boundaries of corporate cities.
- A resolution declaring certain personal property belonging to the City of Orange Beach as surplus and unnecessary and authorizing the Mayor and City Clerk to dispose of such property. Included are four vehicles flooded by Hurricane Sally, two other pickup trucks, a John Deere backhoe attachment, an aerator and a Kawaski UTV.
- Set a public hearing date for a unit development change planned by Summer Salt to add seven lots to Phase 2. Summer Salt is under construction behind Doc’s Seafood and Steaks on Beach Road. The suggested date is September 7th.
- Organize a public hearing for a unit development project for a hotel in the building of the Romar Baptist Church. The suggested gate was August 17th.