This weekend’s fatal wreck on Highway 98 is unfortunately not uncommon on that stretch of road. Nicknamed “Bloody 98” the highway has earned a grisly reputation. A brand new highway was supposed to fix the problem but it’s been delayed for four years and counting.
40 YEARS ON 98
Sitting on his front porch Gene Miller and his cousin Joe Miller have seen 40 years of traffic roar by on Highway 98. The narrow, fast, heavily travelled has always been dangerous.
“When you hear the tires squeal. That bamm! You’re going to naturally get up and come out of the house,” Gene Miller said. “You’ll be in a dead sleep, get up see who it is. Can you help? Can you do anything?”
Even while we were interviewing the cousins a semi made an illegal pass at full speed in front of the house.
“Passed him right there in the turning lane,” Joe Miller said.
3 DEAD THIS WEEKEND
The latest news of this weekend’s wreck hit close to home. The cousins knew the Albrittons and their family.
“My grandchildren went to school with them,” Joe Miller told us. “It’s a shame those two young boys had to lose their lives.”
THAT ROAD; THE “NEW” 98
That road is what was supposed to be the new Highway 98. Millions of dollars were spent cutting the new highway parallel to the old road and then four years ago a lawsuit over wetlands stopped it in its tracks. The lawsuit was settled, but the state had to go back to the drawing board and not one scoop of dirt has been moved since.
In May of 2012 ALDOT officials told FOX10 News that the revised plans for the highway would be done by the end of that year. Today in an email an ALDOT spokesperson said those revised plans were nearing completion.
STILL YEARS AWAY
ALDOT didn’t give us a hard date on when the plans would actually be completed. When they are, federal funding would have to be secured and from that point it would take another four to five years to complete the project. Something the Miller cousins doubt they’ll ever see.
“People my age will never live to ride on it. They’ll never live to ride on the new 98,” Gene Miller said.
And until then the old 98 will continue on with its grisly reputation.
FOX10 News will keep asking ALDOT officials about the new 98 until there are some concrete answers about when the project will get back underway.