News 5 Investigates: Concerns after deadly crashes on ‘Bloody 98’

Mobile County

MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — Two fatal crashes within two days, both along Moffett Road. That highway has been known to many around the area as dangerous and has earned the name “Bloody 98” because of the number of deadly crashes over the years.

“People would just think that they would just drive recklessly and carelessly there,” Nikeland Nichols said.

Three lives were taken along a 14-mile stretch of Moffett Road in just two days. Nichols lived along Moffett Road near Wolf Ridge Road for years. “That intersection is dangerous,” Nichols said.

We spoke with him Thursday about the loss of his friend Deidreana Arielle Jasper and her one-year-old son, Noah Brown. They were killed in an accident near Wolf Ridge Road, the same intersection Nichols had been worried about for years.

“Several times we heard car crashes happening in that area, and even my own family, every time they would get up to that light it was like ‘Okay, God, let them make it through,'” he said.

Jasper and her son were driving west along Moffett Road at Wolf Ridge Road when Mobile police say a UPS driver lost control and crossed into the westbound lanes, hitting the car she and her son were in. This led to a chain reaction. The truck that was behind Jasper hit her car, causing her to hit another car in the lane next to them. Police believe wet roads were a factor.

Thursday night, another life lost along Moffett Road. That crash happened just before 8 p.m. on Highway 98, just before Big Creek Lake. ALEA says 64-year-old Horton Hicks Jr. was killed when the car he was driving collided with an SUV. No word on what caused that crash.

Nichols says he hopes for change. “I pray they do something there to make it safer and another life isn’t taken,” Nichols said.

We reached out to Mobile County Commissioner Connie Hudson’s office. Her office provided us this statement:

We are extremely saddened about the tragic accident that claimed the lives of a young mother and her infant son on Wednesday of this week. That is one more very unfortunate example of the danger that both motorists and pedestrians alike face on the treacherous stretch of the two-lane road that has come to be known as “Bloody 98”. The new US Highway 98 project was designed to alleviate traffic congestion, particularly large truck traffic, from the existing US Highway 98 around the areas most congested thereby improving safety according to ALDOT engineers.

Following delays with lawsuits, funding discrepancies and nearly two decades of requests from local and state representatives as well as citizens’ groups, the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) began construction on the 2-lane portion of the new U.S. Highway 98 roadway in 2017.

The 7-phased project, when complete, will constitute 2 lanes of the original 4 lanes designed and stretch from Schillinger Road to the Mississippi State Line. The initial construction on 2 lanes began in 2017 with a $40 million appropriation of the State’s $1 billion portion of BP Oil Spill settlement money. The project, however, cannot be completed according to ALDOT until an additional $40 million in funding is identified and provided by the state. Consequently, until all funding is appropriated, ALDOT will not offer a date of completion for the 2 lane project now under construction.

It is absolutely imperative that additional funding be identified and allocated by the State of Alabama to complete at least the current 2 lanes of the project and improve safety on one of the most dangerous 2 lane roads in the state.

Commissioner Connie Hudson

ALDOT sent us this statement:

“We at ALDOT extend our sympathies to the families of the victims of the recent US-98 crashes. Highway safety has always been our highest priority. While we have made significant progress on the Safe 98/SR-158 extension project, approximately $40 million-dollars is still needed to complete the 2-lane connection from the Mississippi line to Schillinger Road. ALDOT is committed to exploring all options to secure the funding needed to complete this much needed project”

ALDOT

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