Speed limit now 50 at trouble-prone Alabama intersection

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By Todd Dills

As of March 28, the speed limit at the intersection of I-20/59 and I-65 in Birmingham, Ala., the site of several steel-coil spills in recent years, has been dropped from 60 mph to 50 mph.

The change is part of the joint effort of state lawmakers, Gov. Bob Riley, the Alabama Trucking Association and others to mitigate what has become a regular occurrence at the interchange and elsewhere in the Birmingham area. A total of 26 coils dropped since 1987 was reported by the Birmingham News on the occasion of the most recent, Feb. 18 of this year.

The speed-limit reduction “was one of several items that we suggested,” said Gene Vonderau, the Alabama Trucking Association’s safety director. Others included imposing “strict penalties on drivers and trucking companies who negligently drop loads out there,” load securement inspection, truck-only highway lanes and a certification program for haulers of steel coils in the state of Alabama, Vonderau said.

The association would like to see a certification program — which would be only the second of its kind in the nation — up and running this year, Vonderau said. “We’re working with the Department of Public Safety right now to get the curriculum set up, and looking into the possibility of doing an online course kind of thing,” Vonderau said.