BLOUNT COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - A Blount County group is applying more pressure to state transportation officials for action on a deadly stretch of Highway160.
The group called "Highway 160 Promise" is concerned about the state highway that stretches from I-65 east into the Hayden and Warrior area. The road has claimed 2 lives in the last 2 months.
Highway 160 Promise met with local homeowners and state transportation officials Monday. State officials told these concerned drivers tonight that they are moving as fast as they can on plans to widen the busiest part of Highway 160, stretching 5 ½ miles east from I-65. ALDOT officials told the group they are fast-tracking the plans, but face a strenuous federal permitting and study process that can't be circumvented.
"We're absolutely committed to this project," said ALDOT spokesperson Tony Harris. "And if we're as close to buying right of way as we think we are, it means we're maybe taking bids in 18 months to 2 years."
ALDOT says, in the meantime, it has posted more speed monitoring signs and added daily overtime patrols along the highway to try and slow drivers down. But the road continues to be the scene of fatal accidents like one just 2 weeks ago, and another serious crash last Monday that left 1 woman clinging to life.
Residents want more. "I think there are some things that ALDOT could be doing that they're not doing," said Amy Camp, founder of Highway 160 Promise. "I think they could do some temporary guardrails, I think they certainly should look at caution lights and red lights even if they're temporary fix until they can get the highway widened."
4-year old Angel Lowe and her mother Cristina attended Monday night's meeting. Angel Lowe survived a December 2nd crash that killed 19-year old Rachel Lake, who was driving the car Lowe was riding in.
"She has a broken neck," said Crisitina Lowe. "Her C2 is broke, she has torn ligaments, bruised spinal cord, she was partially paralyzed in her right arm, but that's better now."
For Lowe, this is a fight that won't end until she's satisfied no other family will have to go through what hers has in the past 2 months. "This really pushed me to be involved. I already agreed Hwy 160 needed to be fixed, but as far as pushing it like I am now? I wasn't pushing it like this. I will go to the ends of the earth, if needed."
The Highway 160 Promise group is asking drivers who drive the road to sign an "IPromise" pledge, swearing to slow down and be more cautious when traveling that road.