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Additional Lanes on Highway 280 for 'Bama Fans Only
Inverness() - The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) today unveiled the final plan for alleviating traffic congestion on the Highway 280 corridor. The plan calls for widening the road by one lane in either direction and adding more traffic lights to smooth the flow into and out of the various retail shopping centers. One controversial feature of the plan is that the new lanes with be accessible to Crimson Tide fans only. While the discriminatory nature of this element was a concern to some, the main problem seems to be one of implementation.

"We tried several approaches to detecting 'Bama fans," said ALDOT director Clem Hall, "but the technology was a little behind what we wanted to do." Hall says the plan originally called for only Alabama 'graduates' to be allowed to use the lanes, but this quickly became problematic during testing. The method for determining graduate status involved a complex algorithm that combined university and NCAA rules in order to determine eligibility. A vast array of computers would perform the calculation and return the information to law enforcement officials patrolling the highway. "Unfortunately the system was overloaded and many cars would be through the area before their eligibility was determined," said Hall. "Besides, the models showed the lanes would be mostly empty if we enforced actual graduate status."

An effective compromise solution consists of sensitive cameras mounted above the useful electronic information signs. These cameras will scan the road at a rate of 17 cars per second, looking for UAT related fan paraphernalia. "The imaging system is second to none," said Hall. "The vehicle is scanned from three angles so that everything is visible on in car replay for law enforcement officials to check. The system will have the intelligence to suggest potential violators, but it will be up to a uniformed official to make the final determination."

Concerns over misidentification have eased considerably now that the system has undergone extensive testing. "We had to tweak it somewhat when a few Auburn fans were found using non-permanent flags or magnets," said Hall. "The cameras are now looking for permanently affixed fan ensignia." As for the few 'Bama fans that chose not to mar their cars with stickers, Hall says that there is nothing he can do. "You have to show your colors to get the benefits."