Hartselle eyes downtown traffic woes, plans public hearing to review options

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HARTSELLE, Ala. (WHNT) - When you think about traffic jams, Hartselle is probably not the first place that comes to mind, unless you live there. Highway 36, or Main Street through the downtown area often looks more like a parking lot. Now, efforts are underway to try to ease the problems.

Hartselle is a city divided by a railroad track. Doesn't matter which side of the tracks you're on, when there's a train coming it's the wrong side. It just adds to the joy of trying to navigate Main Street. We were there Friday while traffic was relatively light. It took us 5 minutes to travel about 4 blocks. But that's not the case during the morning and afternoon drive times, when traffic is even worse. Mayor Don Hall says engineers have been looking at the situation.

"And they have come back with some things we could do to improve the traffic flow," Hall says. He declined to release the specific details, saving that for a public hearing next month. But Hall says most of the changes involve changing how the traffic lights cycle. The idea is to move as many vehicles through the area as quickly as possible. Additional consideration will be provided for pedestrian traffic, and he says he wants traffic on the cross streets to be able to move while trains have the other roads blocked. All of this will be discussed at a public hearing next month.

The public hearing is scheduled for January 20th, but officials concede there's really very little they can do to help ease traffic congestion through here until the Highway 36 bypass is finished, and that's going to be several years.

In fact, Mayor Hall says the bypass is really just in the planning stages. Meanwhile he asks people who plan to attend the public hearing next month to write their comments or suggestions down so the engineers can take that information back with them.