Police urge patience, caution

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 2, 2005

DEMOPOLIS-As always, Christmas on the River will bring added traffic to Demopolis this weekend. However, with construction on U.S. Highway 80, traffic may present more of a problem than in previous years.

Normally, the Demopolis Police Department solves this problem by regulating traffic through sensors. However, construction has affected these sensors causing them to be less effective in regulating traffic.

Demopolis Director of Public Safety Jeff Manuel said things could get hectic on city streets.

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“Nearly every loop between Walnut Street and Highway 43 is going to get crowded,” Manuel said. “That is going to present a problem. We are going to have to go out and station officers on the highway to try to alleviate traffic for Christmas on the River events.”

Construction crews have occupied the medians of U.S. Highway 80 for most of the week. Manuel said their work is necessary, but has a negative effect on their sensors.

“They have been grinding the road and they are going to be resurfacing that road, which is tearing our sensors us,” Manuel said. “That has caused problems and when there are normally three lanes of traffic it has condensed into one lane.”

Alabama Department of Transportation District 8 Division Engineer Jerry Holt said the project was part of a plan to smooth the road.

“We had planned on doing some resurfacing down there,” Holt said. “Right now, I think they are just scraping it. They should be on the resurfacing pretty soon.”

Holt said it was hard to say how long the project would take.

Throughout the weekend the orange construction cones will stay up and sensors will be sketchy forcing traffic to be condensed. Manuel asked everyone to keep this in mind.

“Be courteous,” Manuel said. “Traffic is going to be backed up and people who live here in town will find it to be a major inconvenience. We just ask them to be patient and be courteous to the visitors.”

Crime has rarely been a problem during Christmas on the River, but Manuel said the possibility is always there. Car burglaries presented the largest problem two years ago, but Manuel said they raised patrol to remedy the situation.

“The biggest problem we had a few years ago was that a few cars were broken into,” Manuel said. “We put a few officers on four wheelers since then and that has been very successful.”

Manuel said people should use caution throughout the weekend.

“Keep your valuables in your trunk,” Manuel said. “We mostly want people to use common sense. When you go around to purchase things don’t go around flashing a big wad of cash.”