A popular trucking shortcut through Alabama has been temporarily closed for repairs, but it hasn’t stopped drivers from trying to cut through anyway.
Alabama Highway 117 is a popular short cut for drivers looking to get from Huntsville to Atlanta. Residents say the route cuts about an hour from the trip, making it ideal for drivers. However, since the closure of Highway 117 on April 1st, locals say that truckers just can’t seem to let the shortcut go – they keep bypassing the signs and barriers and have even started trying roads where semi trucks are never allowed.
As crews work to repair damage done by a landslide on Lookout Mountain, drivers are required to take the provided detours, but so far that has not been the case, despite large signs notifying truckers that there is currently no access, reported News 19.
“There’s been a couple incidents where trucks try to go up and do it [Tutwiler Gap] and they’ve had to bring a crew in to get them out,” said Elevation Bistro owner and chef Kevin Dunlap. “You’re locked. it’s that tight of a road.”
“It’s a switchback up the side of the mountain and it’s clearly marked no 18-wheelers, and that’s year round,” he continued. “117 is the cut through for the transportation industry from Huntsville to Atlanta. It’s an hour cut for them.”
“To get them to make the turns, there’s not enough room so they’re having to swing way out which makes other cars have problems,” explained Moon Lake Trading Company owner Misty Watters.
Since the closure of Highway 117, County Road 89 through Mentone has seen more truck traffic, causing headaches of its own due to its narrow, winding route.
“There’s really not enough room. There’s barely any room for like two regular sized pickup trucks, so you can imagine the 18-wheelers make you slide over and there’s not a lot of edge on the side,” Watters said.
Since the closure of the highway led to several trucks getting stuck, Mentone police have stepped up by posting troopers to stand guard at the head of the road closure. These officers have been tasked with making drivers turn around and issuing citations if needed. Six citations have already been issued to truck drivers since last week.
Alabama 117 will remain completely closed for a currently undetermined amount of time between Tutwiler Gap and Cool Street in Mentone.
Truckers are advised to follow the detour signs. The official detours for commercial traffic are as follows:
Northbound AL 117 traffic (traveling toward Valley Head):
AL 117 SB to GA 48 EB (at state line)
GA 48 EB to US 27 SB (in Summerville, Ga.)
US 27 SB to GA 114 WB (in Summerville, Ga.)
GA 114 WB to AL 68 WB (at state line)
AL 68 WB to AL 35 NB (at Gaylesville)
AL 35 NB to US 11 NB (at Fort Payne)
US 11 NB to AL 117 (at Hammondville)
Southbound AL 117 traffic (traveling toward Mentone):
AL 117 NB to US 11 SB (at Hammondville)
US 11 SB to AL 35 SB (at Fort Payne)
AL 35 SB to AL 68 EB (at Gaylesville)
AL 68 EB to GA 114 EB (at state line)
GA 114 EB to US 27 NB (in Summerville, Ga.)
US 27 NB to GA 48 WB (in Summerville, Ga.)
GA 48 WB to AL 117 NB (at state line)