By Tanna Friday
For The Tribune
ARGO — At Monday’s meeting, the Argo City Council heard the results of a traffic study to determine improvements needed for several roadways within the City of Argo, which will be impacted by growth in the next five years.
The bad news, according to the study, is that there will be some increased traffic. The good news is that the increase will not be overwhelming, and mitigation steps can be taken to lessen that impact.
Richard Caudle, with Skipper Consulting, Inc., whose firm conducted the analysis, also presented the findings to the Council. Caudle explains that the purpose of the study is to develop and document short-term improvements to the study area roadways.
“Continued growth in residential and other land uses within the City of Argo and Margaret has caused increasing congestion on several major roadways and intersections in Argo,” said Caudle.
“This, coupled with traffic disruptions caused by frequent train traffic on at-grade railroad crossings within the city have resulted in the need to perform an evaluation of traffic operations with the view to develop immediate, short-term, and long-range improvements.”
The study limits for the project include:
- The exit ramp from I-59 north to Argo Parkway
- Argo Parkway from I-59 to U.S. Hwy. 11
- U.S. Hwy. 11 from Argo Parkway to Argo-Margaret Road
- Argo-Margaret Road from U.S. Hwy. 11 to east to railroad tracks
The intersections included for the study include:
- Argo Parkway at the I-59 Southbound exit ramp
- Argo Parkway at the I-59 Northbound exit ramp
- U.S. Hwy. 11 at Argo Parkway
- U.S. Hwy. 11 at Argo Park Drive
- U.S. Hwy. 11 at Argo-Margaret Road/Misty Pine Way
“The towns of Argo and Margaret have experienced substantial growth in population, particularly between the years of 2000 and 2010,” said Caudle. “The growth in population in the two towns was 2.4 percent per year from 1990 to 2000, but jumped to 20 percent per year from 2000 to 2010.”
Caudle explained that traffic on U.S. Hwy. 11 south of Argo-Margaret Road has increased over the recent years. “From 2012 to 2014, traffic on U.S. Hwy. 11 increased from 9,960 vehicles per day to 11,700, which is an 8.7 percent increase,” says Caudle.
Caudle points out that even though there is not a significant growth on I-59, from 2007 to 2016, the traffic on I-59 south of Argo-Margaret Road has increased from 32,730 vehicles per day to 34,230.
Caudle suggested six recommended improvements to the Council:
- Construct a deceleration lane from I-59 northbound onto the Argo Parkway exit ramp;
- Widen Argo Parkway by one lane eastbound from the I-59 southbound exit ramp to U.S. Hwy. 11;
- Provide dual left turn lanes and one right turn lane from Argo Parkway eastbound onto U.S. Hwy. 11;
- Widen U.S. Hwy. 11 to a four-lane undivided cross section from Argo Parkway to Argo-Margaret Road;
- Provide dual left turn lanes and a right turn lane from Argo-Margaret Road onto U.S. Hwy. 11; and
- Provide a left turn lane from U.S. Hwy. 11 southbound onto Argo-Margaret Road.
Mike Kaczorowski of the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham explained to the Council that the funding for the project, an estimated $6 million, can be implemented using typical State, Federal-Aid funding sources or local funding depending on availability. Kaczorowski explained the greatest funding source for major roadway projects is from the federal government, which accounts for over 80 percent of the funding granted.
He advised the Council to speak with St. Clair County officials to discuss how to leverage local funds for an 20 percent Surface Transportation Program (STP) match.