ALDOT plans to improve tight traffic hub

Published 1:12 am Sunday, March 15, 2009

Plans to widen the intersection of U.S. Highway 31 and Alabama highways 22 and 145 are proceeding, but there likely won’t be any construction for at least two years.

Alabama Department of Transportation engineer Dee Rowe said they are currently in the design phase of the intersection improvement project.

“Once the design is completed, we can begin to purchase the right of way, demolish the buildings and relocate the utilities and finally begin the actual construction,” Rowe said Friday.

The project is designed to increase safety at the intersection. Proposed improvements at the intersection include adding right turn lanes at each corner with enough space for tractor trailers to make turns without going into other lanes.

Currently, tractor-trailers do not have enough room to make both left and right turns while staying in their lanes. Also, numerous accidents have been caused by the 18-wheelers not having enough room to make these traffic maneuvers. This includes Tuesday’s incident when a truck broke a power pole while turning right at the intersection.

To do this project fully, the transportation department must acquire additional right of way at each corner of the intersection along with space for deceleration lanes.

ALDOT has slated construction to begin in early fiscal year 2011.

“If all the other items are accomplished before, then there is a good possibility we will be allowed to let it to contract sooner than that,” Rowe said. “Frankly though, I think it will take that much time to accomplish the other steps. Any time we have relocations and/or condemnations, the right of way acquisitions take a lot longer.”

Rowe indicated that regular program funds for this project instead of stimulus money because it does not meet the “shovel ready” requirement in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.