HARPO, RPC plan for needed road work

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, February 24, 2011

Big reconstruction plans are hopefully in the works for Chilton County’s roads, highways and bridges as discussed at a public involvement meeting Thursday.

The meeting was sponsored by the Heart of Alabama Rural Planning Organization (HARPO) and the Regional Planning Commission (RPC) and held at Clanton City Hall Thursday.

Clanton, Jemison and Thorsby’s mayors were in attendance, along with County Engineer Tony Wearren, County Extension Coordinator Gay West and other county representatives.

The purpose of the meeting was to examine opportunities and discuss actions that need to be taken to move forward with the improvements in Chilton County.

“The purpose is to inform everyone of what’s going on and to inform DOT of what you all want to see happen,” said Steve Ostaseski, principal planner at the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham (RPCGB).

There are 21 highway projects for Chilton County on the Alabama Statewide Transportation Improvement Program 2008-2011 list.

First on the list, a rest area along U.S. 82 north of Alabama 22 in Maplesville will be upgraded with new roofs and area lighting. The parking lot will also be resurfaced. The work is scheduled to begin in November.

In Clanton, a demolition and structure removal of three conflicting buildings at U.S. 31 at Alabama 22 and Alabama 145 is planned to take place in April.

Thorsby’s railroad safety project is scheduled to begin in October, but Mayor Dearl Hilyer has been pushing to get the project moved up sooner. It is noted on the list that the project has been authorized and waiting on CSX for work to begin.

Three railroad crossing improvements at intersections in Clanton, Jemison and Maplesville are being sent to the director’s office and will be authorized soon.

Also, bids will open Friday for the replacement of the bridge on Alabama 145 over Yellowleaf Creek.

Lane resurfacings have been put on hold, and it is unknown when they will be added back to the list.

After going over the transportation improvement list, six ideas for Chilton County that were mentioned in a previous meeting were discussed in further detail including: rural roads, repairs and funding, rail grade crossings overpass/underpass, cargo oriented development, rideshare program, industrial sites and new revenue sources.

After the audience voiced their suggestions and agreed on the plans, Ostaseski will be presenting the plans to DOT to get them approved.

The next meeting will be held April 26, where statuses on the projects and reasons for delays will be discussed.