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McKenzie residents begging for ALDOT intervention on deadly highway

Published: Oct. 2, 2017 at 5:49 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 2, 2017 at 7:15 PM CDT
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McKenzie, AL (WSFA) - Five McKenzie residents have died within the last five years on Highway 55, according to town leaders.

The most recent was a two-car collision in front of Dollar General shortly after 2 p.m. Saturday.

State troopers have identified the woman who died in the wreck as 54-year old Jean Raines Garcia. Gracia will killed when her car was struck by another vehicle driven by Leif Wallis Mohrman of Cedar, Minnesota.

While state troopers haven't released the cause of the collision, town leaders blame Garcia's death, and the other deaths, on the lack of turn lanes.

"What we need is the safety of our citizens," said McKenzie town council pro-tem Betty Brown.

Town and county leaders have been fighting this battle for some time now, practically begging for three turning lanes at the three primary intersections on the outskirts of town.

"This is not a situation that just arose this weekend. It's been going on for a few years now," said Butler County Commissioner Darrell Sanders.

Alabama Department of Transportation officials say they are aware of Saturday's fatality but are still gathering more information. Previous requests for turning lanes by the town have gone unmet with the same response - no money but maybe down the road, leaders say.

McKenzie town leaders say they have tried and tried. In fact, the most recent meeting with ALDOT was last week. Still, community leaders say they have no plans of giving up.

State Rep. Chris Sells, a Republican who represents District 90, says he is doubling his efforts with the governor's office and ALDOT to see if funds can be found.

According to Brown,  it would cost around $250,000 to design and paint just one turning lane.

"Just one to start off with would be tremendous," Brown said.

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