By Alton Mitchell
On Monday evening the Chambers County Commission voted unanimously to raise the speed limit on one of the most highly traveled County maintained roads in Chambers County. In the near future residents may see an increase of allowed speeds on County Road 278.
County Road 278 sits nestled in the northern sections of Chambers County. The roadway which is located north of the Five Points community is a main roadway linking Chambers County to West Point Lake and Troup County, Georgia. This has made it one of the most highly traveled roadways in the County. Residents in the area commonly refer to the roadway as Randolph-Lagrange Road.
Following a state of Alabama funded repaving years ago the speed limit on the road was lowered. As resident exit from U.S. Highway 431 the speed limit begins at 40 mph and maintains that speed until nearing the Georgia State line when the limit is increased to 50 mph. As the road crosses into Georgia it becomes Georgia State Highway 109 and the speed limit rises to 55 mph until reaching the city of Lagrange.
Residents in the area have complained about the lower speed limit. Those complaints fell on the ears of County Commissioner Joe Blanks of District 3. Those concerns were expressed to County engineer Josh Harvill. Harvill was present at Monday’s meeting and explained that speed on roadways is determined based upon one of two methods. The first is design and the second can be by a study of the roadway.
Harvill explained that the speeds on County Road 278 are based upon the design of the roadway. When driving on County Road 278 drivers notice a mostly tranquil and rural setting that is covered with homes, farms, some small businesses, and gas stations. The road also features several turns and signs near winding sections of the road that warn motorist the roadway is slippery when wet.
After hearing the complaints a research study was done on the roadway and it was determined that the roadway could safely allow motorist to travel at speeds of 55 mph. The County Commission adopted a resolution on Monday to raise the speed limit to 55 mph.
Before adopting that resolution one County Commission member expressed his concerns with the raising of the speed limit on the roadway. County Commissioner David Eastridge expressed concerns stating, “If we post the speed limit at 55 people will still do 75”. Eastridge also cited concerns of a similar situation in the county. “We raised the speed limit on County Road 388 and within one month there were five accidents and one fatality,” explained Eastridge.
During the research period speeds that vehicles traveled on the roadway were analyzed and collected. According to Harvill he states that the average speeds motorist travel on the roadway range between 40 mph and 61 mph, of that about 85% of the vehicles were traveling around 55 mph. State Troopers have been present on the roadway and are ticketing drivers who exceed the current speed limits, but motorist are still speeding on the roadway.
The action taken by the commission on Monday only gives an approval of an resolution to raise the speed limit to 55 mph from U.S. Highway 431 eastward to the Georgia State line. Harvill explains the Chambers County Highway Department will take a look at some things before taking any new actions on the roadway. Among those actions is taking a closer look at the curves on the roadway.