“What we’re dealing with is a public safety issue and a capacity issue,” said Mayor Sandy Stimpson.
If you are headed to Bel Air Mall from the west on Airport Blvd, it’s the first turn that goes to into the mall area. The problem is that this short cut-through is designed to bring free flowing traffic on to the I-65 Service Road. It’s not designed as an access point to the mall parking lot near Dillard’s. But many drivers were cutting across a lane of traffic to try to make that turn.
“Definitely this is one place the police contact us about especially during the holiday season,” said Jennifer White, the city’s traffic engineering director. “They do write a number of tickets for some of those illegal turns.”
A few months ago, the city added some bollards to prevent the illegal left hand turn. That move has not been totally effective.
“What’s happening is that people are going down and doing a u-turn past the bollards because they’re not used to having that obstruction there,” said Stimpson.
Tomorrow the City Council is expected to approve a $25,000 contract with a design engineer to come up with some ideas to permanently solve the issue.
Some possibilities include widening service road with a dedicated left hand turn lane, adding new entrances to mall lot, leaving up the bollards or replacing them with a cement barrier, or closing the cut through street altogether.