ALDOT project in Cullman has first responders concerned about response times

ALDOT project in Cullman has first responders concerned about response times
Source: WBRC
Source: WBRC

CULLMAN COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - Concrete barriers along a major roadway are causing headaches for many drivers in Cullman, including first responders.

Some of the barriers stretching on Highway 278 have Cullman Police, Fire and EMS concerned about response times.

It's an ALDOT project that the state says is supposed to make things safer by cutting down on drivers who cut double yellow lines to access businesses along the busy street.

"Mainly some of the areas that we have concern was the traffic getting congested in certain areas and our apparatus having enough space to get around the motorists and that type of thing," Brian Bradberry with Cullman Fire and Rescue said.

Mayor Woody Jacobs feels the lack of some communication from the state about the project is causing headaches for everyone.

"Not trying to be too hard on them [ALDOT] but there are other safety concerns besides traffic safety and I know that the money came from traffic safety but there is public safety," Jacobs said.

"The concrete medians were installed as a safety measure aimed at reducing crashes. Restricting left turn movements and concentrating those movements at controlled intersections greatly reduces the number of conflict points along the corridor," Seth Burkett, an ALDOT spokesperson said.

First responders are always asking drivers when they see lights or hear sirens to move to the right—the city says these barriers are making that difficult right now.  At a meeting this past Monday, city leaders met with ALDOT about these concerns.

"We greatly appreciate the feedback from police, fire and EMS and feel like it was a productive discussion," Burkett added.

We're told ALDOT told emergency officials they can drive over the barriers.

"We checked with the manufacturer and we don't have the clearance or the ability to do that. So those big fire trucks are going to have to go all the way down or go around if they need to get across. When you got a fire or structure fire, 30 seconds can be the difference between life and death," Jacobs said.

Burkett tells WBRC once paving is complete on 278, those barriers will not stand as high and should allow for fire trucks and ambulances to drive over them. In the meantime, first responders are coming up with alternate routes to get around this work until its complete.

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