Owens turn lane

Owens Elementary Principal Cleo Miller and Limestone District 4 Commissioner Bill Daws stand in the middle of turn lanes on Alabama 99 that recently opened at the school. School officials said since the state added the new lanes, traffic is less congested at the school making it safer for motorists and students.

A third lane entering and exiting Owens Elementary off Alabama 99 is a $100,000 project that has been worth its weight in gold, school officials said Friday.

“It has worked extremely well since the state opened the lanes for traffic,” said Owens Principal Cleo Miller. “We no longer have traffic backed up on the main road.”

Owens Elementary is the largest elementary in Limestone County with 515 students, said Miller. The school is also a feeder school for West Limestone High School.

“We have been trying to get this project underway for six years because of the safety issues,” said District 4 Commissioner Bill Daws who played a vital role in obtaining Alabama Department of Transportation approval to construct the turn lanes. “The traffic in and out here creates a lot of congestion. We are very grateful the state decided to do this work.”

“It is so much better — it has been a life saver,” said Tina Coats, an Owens bus driver. “It has cut down on the traffic situation here. In the past we were backed up all the way to the intersection at Elk River Mills Road.”

State DOT Engineer Johnny Harris said earlier the state decided to construct the third lane at the school after conducting a safety study.

“Some of the education folks in that area requested we look at installing turn lanes and access improvements at the school, and we did that and determined there was a need for those improvements,” Harris said.

The state completed the project last month. Shelby Contracting Co. of Huntsville was the contractor.

“We now have two lanes in and two lanes out of the school,” said Coats. “It makes driving here so much easier and a lot safer.”

Miller said fourth graders at the school are also starting a beautification project because of the new turn lanes.

They will put in plants and flowers at a triangle between Alabama 99 and the turn lanes, she said.

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