Oakwood Avenue improvements make Huntsville drivers, bicyclists safer
Published on January 18, 2023
Modifications to a busy Huntsville road will reduce crashes and provide safe access for those who prefer two wheels to four.
Work began this week to reconfigure and resurface Oakwood Avenue from Andrew Jackson Way to Maysville Road. Nicholas Nene, Huntsville’s Director of Traffic Engineering, said plans to improve that section of road date back several years and were initially suggested during public meetings related to The BIG Picture master plan.
“We completed design work in 2020 and had a series of town halls last year,” he said. “Based on our data collection, it will result in a road that is safer for everybody.”
The road is four lanes, divided by only a double yellow line. When modifications are complete, it will have one eastbound lane, one westbound lane and a two-way left turn lane down the middle. It will also include eastbound and westbound bike lanes on each side.
Nene said the four-lane configuration presented safety issues confirmed by crash data. The most common reports were of vehicles being side-swiped or rear-ended, often the result of vehicles turning into residential driveways without a dedicated turn lane.
“This will reduce speeds for drivers and should result in fewer crashes,” Nene said of the improvements. “It will also make it safer and easier for bicyclists to travel because they won’t be in a travel lane.”
Additionally, the new turn lane configuration makes it easier to add refuge islands to ensure safe pedestrian crossing.
Dennis Madsen, Huntsville’s Manager of Urban and Long-Range Planning, said the Oakwood Avenue improvements reflect the City’s goal of improving multimodal transportation options citywide. He added the project is unique because it stemmed from public input.
“We recognize not everybody likes to drive, so allowing more connectivity through bike lanes is a great option,” he said, noting people will be able to bike to City parks and other amenities when the project is complete. “More importantly, by converting a four-lane road to a three-lane, you’re making it safer for not only our drivers, but you’re also providing safer infrastructure for our bicyclists.”
Resurfacing work should be completed next week, weather permitting.