Residents voice concerns about traffic volume, speed on Hwy. 137

Published 9:15 am Thursday, June 16, 2022

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A group of citizens addressed the Covington County Commission Tuesday to voice concerns about traffic on AL Hwy. 137.

The residents of the area told the commissioners they are concerned about the amount of traffic traveling along Hwy. 137 and said the problem is compounded due to speeding.

One of the speakers, Laura Hartline, submitted a petition to the commission that she said included 336 signatures of other residents with concerns about the highway traffic.

“I stand before you representing the people of Covington County, especially the communities of Carolina, Pleasant Home, Beda, and Wing. The residents you are responsible for have submitted a petition with over 336 names of concerned citizens who see there is a problem in our area with dangerous and unlawful traffic. Hwy. 29 South and AL Hwy. 137 is known as the beach route. However, travelers are now using this route year-round because our roadways connect I-65 to I-10, and they also know this area is rarely patrolled. These roads were not meant for this much traffic,” Hartline said.

Another resident asked for more law enforcement patrols along the route.

“Hwy. 137 is a two-lane, 14-mile stretch of road in lower Alabama. GPS navigation systems route beach vacationers from I-65 down 29 South to 137 to the Panhandle. The taxpayers of Alabama must travel this road to and from work and need the commission to help us with the dangerous situation. We need a deputy to patrol our area. We must wait to enter the road as long lines of vehicles fly by. You can guarantee a surreal thrill every time you travel this roadway. (There is) a total disregard for speed limit signs as long lines of motorists travel at excessive speeds,” Elliot Wheeler said.

Dianne Jones agreed that too many traveling on Hwy. 137 are ignoring speed limits.

“While getting the petition signed, we heard the same horror stories over and over. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to leave the road or stop in the middle of the road because someone was passing three or four cars at a time. The speeds are unbelievable and can be as much as 90 and 100 miles an hour. The people in our area are having to speed just to keep from getting run over, and it’s ridiculous,” Jones said.

Sheriff Blake Turman shared that he has had conversations with citizens of Wing.

“Their concern is a grave concern. In my career as a cop, I have noticed the significant increase of traffic down Hwy. 137. When they finished the bypass around Georgiana, that’s when all the traffic started coming down this way. It’s a quicker route to the beach, and they run on the interstate going 70 and then 65 on Hwy. 55. They’re still stuck with the high speeds, and when they get down to Wing, they drive like complete idiots. We have been out there patrolling, and I have written the governor about some relief on that,” Turman said.

Increasing patrols along the route is challenging due to the restrictions on the state level and not enough deputies on the local level, according to Turman.

“Right now, State Troopers can only go 80 miles a day, which I think is ridiculous. We assign deputies as often as we possibly can, but Covington County is a huge county and we just don’t have the manpower to keep someone down on 137. It’s hard to figure out how many wrecks have been in the Wing community,” he said.

No action was taken on the matter, but the commission agreed with the residents’ concerns and indicated they would look into the matter.

In other matters:

  • The commission voted 3-1 not to observe the Juneteenth holiday on Monday, June 20. Juneteenth has been declared a federal and state holiday.

Commission Chairman Greg White said the county budget is not set up to account for the extra holiday.

“Part of the reason is the cost as it is not budgeted. We pay our folks double time to have to work (on holidays). You have law enforcement, jail staff, and CATS drivers who are hauling people for medical services. It’s just not a budgeted item, so the commission decided to wait. We are going to encourage the state to make a final decision on the matter, so it doesn’t come up randomly. It is a federal and state holiday but not a county holiday, so county offices will be open. However, state offices and county facilities like courts will be closed,” White said.

  • The commission approved re-appointing District 4 Commissioner Tommy McGaha to the Association of County Commissions of Alabama’s Legislative Committee.
  • The commission approved the purchase of a mulcher head for the engineer department at a price of $28,508.

The next meeting of the Covington County Commission will be held Tuesday, June 28, 9 a.m., at the Covington County Administration Building. The public is invited to attend.