MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — State leaders and other public officials from Mobile and Washington counties met today to discuss the ongoing dangers of traveling on U.S. Highway 45 and what needs to be done to save lives. The leaders met at Kushla Bethany Baptist Church, less than half a mile from where the most recent fatal wreck happened.
Rep. Shane Stringer led the conference, saying, “They’ve got to understand that there is a lot of lives that have been lost and a lot of people that are affected by this road.”
The leaders who met today say they have sent a letter to Gov. Kay Ivey and have also been working with ALDOT for a solution. One major fix they believe could be to widen the highway to four lanes.
“The wreck that we just had recently, the lady passed in the wrong lane. Had there been four lanes, maybe she wouldn’t have had to do that… so we know this is going to minimize wrecks — it’s proof,” Stringer said.
In the past five years, there have been more than 1,200 accidents resulting in 72 deaths on U.S. Highway 45. One of those fatalities being Tracy Rutland, who lost her life on the highway back in 2015. Her brother Tony spoke at the press conference today, saying, “I’ve been a paramedic with the city of Mobile for 29 years. This isn’t new to me, but it just hit inside. I hope nobody else has to go through what I saw my mom and dad go through.”
They also hope to add more traffic lights and reduce speed limits along with the widening. Stringer says they also mentioned in the letter the issues of congestion from tourists traveling to the beaches and how emergency vehicles have seen issues with response time because of it. For those victims’ families, like Tony, this project needs to happen sooner rather than later.
“When it is a dangerous situation like this in a few-mile period, it looks to me like they would center in on this and say, ‘Wow, we need to be aggressive about this and expand these roads because without it being widened, the same thing is going to happen many more times.”