Nightmare on Pine Street

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Whitney Veazey | Staff Photographer

Whitney Veazy, Staff Photographer

Moving to a new city is bound by its very nature to be riddled with adjustments. As a freshman, 

one of these adjustments for me has been getting used to traveling in Florence.

 

From my experiences as both a driver and pedestrian, Pine Street in particular can be a little scary- and in some places, proven to be quite dangerous as well. 

 

As a pedestrian on Pine Street, many have had the experience of crossing the bridge next to the intersection in front of Flowers Hall. Out of everyone I’ve spoken to, the general consensus seems to be that the cross has been terrifying for many at some point in time. The lack of buffer space between the sidewalk and oncoming traffic can be extremely intimidating, and for good reason. Even a small stumble or trip could send you directly into the path of an oncoming vehicle. As for the railing on the outer edge, I’ve often wondered how low it sits beneath the average person’s center of gravity, and how possible it is that a similar mistake could potentially send someone over. I’d say the chill of the wind as cars fly past becomes just a little colder when you’re focused on landing every step in order to avoid becoming the next story in the Flor-Ala. 

 

A few years ago, the University of North Alabama and the City of Florence partnered with Croy Engineering, LLC. to launch a study focused on Pine Street’s transportation issues between Jackson Road and Dr Hicks Boulevard. One aspect of the study collected the crash records of this area from January 2015 through December 2019, which totaled a shocking 294 crashes over the course of just five years. That averages 59 crashes per year along a mere two-mile stretch. In my own opinion, I think this could be attributed to the high volume of young drivers combined with some of the road and visibility conditions caused by the mountainous landscape. 

 

The natural geography of Florence, while absolutely gorgeous, is no doubt a culprit in making commutes here much harder as opposed to flatter areas of Alabama. The dreamy, rolling hills make visibility in some areas a nightmare. Whether at the top, not knowing what’s climbing up from below, or at the bottom, bracing for the possibility of getting t-boned by a very determined Kia Seoul sailing down the drop, making turns in many parts of this town takes focus and commitment. Left turns, such as coming off of West Lelia, are especially dangerous as you sometimes can’t see what’s coming around that curve or hill, and someone not used to the terrain may be ready to hit the panic button every time they realize they need to make a trip to Walmart. 

 

Speaking of shopping, it’s become a bit of a strategy to plan outings during the week. I’ve discerned that in order to ensure a parking spot when I get back, I can really only leave on Friday or Saturday nights when others are gone too. This valuable lesson came to me one Thursday night when my roommate and I ventured out of our safe little UNA bubble for groceries. When we returned to the parking deck, we began to panic as our Honda crawled through floor after floor, scanning each space, but to no avail. As we creeped towards the very edge of the 8th floor roof level, by some miracle we found the last spot to be empty. At that point I could’ve kissed the ground, because parking in front of our dorm is virtually non-existent, so we would have been really out of luck if the parking deck was also unavailable when we had groceries to drag in. 

 

Like many things in life, college comes with its own set of everyday challenges, but I hope students are encouraged to stay aware and uncomplacent when driving, and that the University works to improve its infrastructure for the safety and overall benefit of all students.