BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — After getting nowhere with officials, a viewer reached out to CBS 42 hoping for answers.
Bill Dixon contacted the “Your Voice Your Station” hotline asking us to look into every off ramp on the Red Mountain Expressway between University Blvd. and the I-20/59 interchange.
Dixon said the abrupt curves and lack of signs warning drivers to slow down is dangerous and causes a lot of damage. He drove it every day to and from work for over 20 years and said he has seen the worst of what can happen on this busy stretch of interstate.
“It’s very dangerous. I’ve driven up on accidents there,” Dixon said.
Dixon said the off ramps in particular are dangerous. He acknowledged locals are likely familiar with the short ramps with the tight curves but worried about others.
“If you’re not from this area and you’re coming through there and everyone’s doing 70 mph in a 55 and you’re getting off there, you may be going to the hospital,” he said.
Dixon pointed to evidence like guardrails constantly knocked to the ground. He said even the temporary barriers don’t stand a chance against an out of control car.
“There’s one exit there that vehicles have gone through the barriers and down into businesses,” he said.
Businesses like Eagle Plumbing on 3rd Ave South where an employee told CBS 42 they call the area behind their building “the landing pad” because of the number of cars that have come crashing through the guardrail on the exit ramp that backs up to their property.
Passerby’s can see barriers and fences on the ground. Evidence from past crashes litter the area, and you don’t have to go far to find more damage.
Around the corner at Sahani Kitchen, owner David Kimani said he worries about the safety of his employees as they prepare food in his restaurant feet away from one of the exit ramps.
“We just noticed either cars coming down the guardrail or people actually coming down the hill. One time an 18 wheeler came down. Luckily, it missed the building,” Kimani said.
Kimani hasn’t always been that lucky.
“One day my dad was just here on a normal day closing, cleaning up and out of nowhere he hears a loud boom,” explained Kimani.
That boom was a car that smacked into the restaurant. No one was hurt but since then the landlord has installed a fence and barrier posts in hopes of preventing it from happening again.
They’ve even called ALDOT asking if they plan to fix the guardrail that Kimani said has been knocked down for months.
“So we reached out to them they said they’d come back check everything out never got an answer,” Kimani said.
Dixon hasn’t had much luck either.
“I notified ALDOT 6 to 8 months ago. I got no response,” he said.
Dixon believes signs need to be added to all the exits warning drivers of the tight curves and to reduce their speed.
When CBS 42 drove the exits, we noticed there were no signs, so we contacted ALDOT asking when the guardrails will be fixed and if they’re considering installing signs.
Steve Walker with ALDOT said that improvements to the exit ramps are included in the on-going project on the Red Mountain Expressway. He also said that ramp advisory speed signs will be added as well as signs for lane drops and pavement markings for drivers.
As for the damaged guardrails, Walker said ALDOT plans to replace existing rails and build new ones. He said the work is expected to be finished this fall.
CBS 42 will continue to follow up on the story.