It’s probably one of the trickiest traffic conundrums in the City of Gulf Shores. And it’s on the main northern connection on the island between Gulf Shores and Orange Beach at East Canal Road and East 2nd Street.
“That 90-degree curve that’s there today just doesn’t work,” Public Works Director Mark Acreman said. “It’s not a good situation.”
It will likely be a big topic of conversation at a May 7 public meeting to discuss the Canal Road Corridor Study. The meeting, which takes place from 5:30 – 7 p.m., will be in the Erie H. Meyer Civic Center.
Gulf Shores hired the engineering company Volkert in February to do a study on the roadway as part of a $284,000 contract. Restore Act funding will pay for the improvements once the city decides what those will be.
“This particular section is from where the new bridge lands on Canal Road back to Highway 59,” Acreman said. “What we’re studying is what’s the most optimum route that handles traffic, improves pedestrian safety and minimizes to the greatest extent possible impacts to the community.”
Front and center will be how to make that transition on the 90-degree turn smoother and more efficient.
“We’re trying to look at ways to find another route that would make that location null and void for high-volume traffic,” Acreman said.
He said residents will be presented with three or four options, but will also be asked to come up with their own ideas on how to change that route.
“We’ll have a couple of preliminary routes that they can look at and then we’ll also have some blank maps so they can draw in their own routes where they think they should go,” Acreman said. “That will help us evaluate the multiple options we have. There may be some things we haven’t thought of.”
Ryan Shamburger, whose family owns Big Beach Brewing near the 90-degree turn, would like to see that traffic rerouted to make the area more pedestrian friendly. Right now, the highway separates the brewery and The Diner from the western half of the Waterway Village district.
“We hope to make both those areas walking and entertainment districts,” Shamburger said. “We look forward to when Waterway Village no longer has [State Route] 180 separating our two closest neighborhoods, thereby allowing a connected, walkable downtown district.”
Acreman said a bit of good news from the project is there is no longer a need to widen Canal Road to four or five lanes. It had been talked about as a possible solution for traffic along the corridor.
“It’s actually going to reduce the traffic volume on Canal Road,” Acreman said. “Does that mean we might not want to put in some left-turn lanes to make turning safer so you don’t have to stop the traffic? Yes, we may still want to add some turn lanes to make it safer and more efficient, but the need to do five lanes or four lanes is not there.”
Acreman said after the improvements are completed, the plan is to make that section of Canal Road and East 2nd Street into a city street.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.
It looks like you are opening this page from the Facebook App. This article needs to be opened in the browser.
iOS: Tap the three dots in the top right, then tap on "Open in Safari".
Android: Tap the Settings icon (it looks like three horizontal lines), then tap App Settings, then toggle the "Open links externally" setting to On (it should turn from gray to blue).