Russell County Commission approves light at 431 and 165 intersection

By Sara Belsole

COLUMBUS, GA – Year after year, the intersection of State Roads 165 and 431 in Russell County has proven deadly.

But today, the county is moving forward with a solution: a traffic light.

“It will save a lot of lives, a lot of injuries, a lot of vehicles,” resident Kevin Love says.

The flashing lights at the intersection will be replaced with the new stop light. The state of Alabama will be paying for most of it, Russell County is responsible for 25% of the labor costs, which is about $15,000-$20,000.

The City of Phenix City has offered to pay half of those labor costs, but the county will be responsible for any other maintenance costs in the future.

Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor says the county commissioners have been fighting the state for a stop light for years.

“The Fort Mitchell area has grown so much over the years and people coming in from that are to town to work and shop and everything, the intersection is extremely dangerous,” Taylor says.

Kevin Love, who lives just miles from the intersection, agrees, “In the two years I have been here, I have probably run into eight tragic accidents, and that's just me.”

One of those accidents claimed the life of an elderly Hurtsboro couple in 2011. Washington and Cleron Johnson crashed into a ravine trying to avoid an oncoming car. They had been married for 48 years.

And just one month before that, Russell County High School senior Casey Hearn was killed in a head-on collision with a school bus, just a few miles from the intersection.

Sheriff Taylor says the new traffic light will do what's most important: slow drivers down.

“Are there still going to be people that run the red light, I am sure there will, but I think certainly overall it makes the intersection so much safer,” Taylor says.

Officials say the light should be up and working in the next 60 days.

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