Starbucks drive-thru line causing traffic gridlock on Governors

WAFF's Kellie Miller reporting
Published: Feb. 4, 2022 at 10:27 AM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Most of us love picking up a morning cup of joe on the way to work or school. But if you’ve been on Governors Drive in the busy morning hours, you’ve likely seen a traffic jam entering the Starbucks just down from the hospital.

Unfortunately, this “Starbucks standstill” on Governors Drive is fueling frustration among drivers and city leaders. Some say it’s causing dangers on the roadway, forcing drivers to make unsafe lane changes.

“It’s a traffic safety issue,” said Huntsville City Councilmember Bill Kling. “You’ve got a lot of traffic going West on Governors Drive during those peak times and then all of a sudden there is gridlock at one lane, not because of traffic but just because of cars that are parked to get through the carry out line to get their coffee.”

Due to the layout of the business located at 310 Governors Dr SW, the drive-thru line overflows onto Governors and blocks traffic heading west. That line also blocks cars trying to pull out of the drive-thru.

Kling believes there are ways to fix the problem, such as by creating a merge lane entering the business off of Governors Drive. He also suggests reconfiguring the drive-thru so that the line flows onto the street behind the business.

“We want everybody to enjoy their coffee but there should be a better way to deal with this situation,” he said.

The authority to make any necessary changes lies with the state highway department. But still, Kling believes a resolution can and should be found.

“I think it is a very significant issue because to me one of the biggest concerns that I have about the city is making sure we are staying ahead of the curb as far as traffic flow and then this is sort of a self-induced problem that we have and we should be able to find a way to correct it between the city and also the state highway department,” Kling said.

A representative with the city of Huntsville’s Traffic Engineering Division responded to Kling’s comments. He wrote,

“The ‘merge lane’ that Councilman Kling may be eluding to is a right turn deceleration lane, which is only feasible IF there is enough Right of Way ( ROW ) to construct one. In addition, the typical time to request an offsite improvement is before the business is constructed, unless they seek to add further improvements post-opening an establishment. The DOT would be the ones, in this case, to make any minor/major changes on the roadway.”

WAFF reached out to the DOT but has not heard back.

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