After latest fatal crash, neighbors call for traffic signal at Dug Hill Road

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – Neighbors are calling for a traffic signal at one busy intersection in Madison County.

John and Julie Bolton from Grant died when they crashed into another vehicle along US-72 and Dug Hill Road around 11:00 a.m.

That’s the latest in what’s been a deadly intersection for over a decade.

Madison County leaders say US-72 is state jurisdiction and despite a handful of fatalities over the last 10 years, engineers say this intersection doesn’t justify more than a flashing stop sign so far.

And people who’ve lost loved ones on this very road say every deadly crash is a frustrating reminder.

“It’s a day that changed my life forever,” Hollie Finnerty said.

On January 20, 2006, on this same stretch of US-72, Finnerty’s father Charles Cornelison, known to friends as ‘Junior’, crashed into a driver who’d pulled out on the busy highway.

“It was bad. His injuries were terrible,” Finnerty said.

“I asked if he was OK, and she said, ‘no ma’am, he’s not. You need to get here’,” Charles’ widow Patricia Cornelison-Miller said.

Charles died in the hospital five days later. The other two people were injured in the crash.

“It was Terrible. There are no words to describe it,” Patricia said.

On Friday morning, history repeated itself as a couple from Grant died in a wreck at the same spot.

“Every time I hear it, my heart sinks to my stomach,” Finnerty said.

“Something needs to be done,” Patricia said.

“We know Dug Hill’s a dangerous intersection,” Madison County District Three Commissioner Craig Hill said.

Hill says ALDOT and engineers have studied the Dug Hill intersection. Despite several fatalities over the last 20 years, they didn’t feel it warranted a traffic signal for fear of rear-end collisions.

“Rear-end collisions at high speeds are as dangerous as a 90-degree collision,” Hill said.

So far, Hill says the county has paid out of its own pocket to install a flashing stop sign for dug hill drivers. But families like Hollie and Patricia wonder how many more crashes it’ll take before they see an improvement at Dug Hill Road.

As of Friday evening, more than 2,200 people have signed an online petition to put in a traffic signal.

Hill says what drivers are more likely to see here is a ‘right turn only’ onto US-72.

But he says the project is stalled for lack of funding, and it’s unclear how soon it could begin.

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