Jemison looking for traffic relief, better internet

Published 10:22 am Tuesday, July 20, 2021

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By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

Traffic issues in Jemison after recent accidents on Interstate 65 and internet outages have Mayor Eddie Reed looking for ways to improve the situation.

During the July 19 Jemison City Council, Reed updated the council on the situation and let them know he would be meeting with other local mayors on July 20 to discuss options. The Chilton County Commission as well as state and federal representatives have also been notified of the traffic issue.

Reed said the goal was “to see what we can do to get some relief” on the traffic situation because it was negatively impacting local businesses and sales tax revenue.

“Over the last five years, we have been, I guess terrorized I might say … whenever there is an accident out there on 65, Jemison and the main cities on (Highway) 31 have had to be in control of the traffic,” Reed said. “It has been devastating to our city. Our businesses are having problems … Our police department is continually called out on 65.”

According to the Jemison Police Department, there have been nearly 500 accidents on the nearby stretch of interstate in the past 17 months.

Reed said local business owners have contacted city hall with concerns, presumably because the traffic makes it difficult for customers to get to them.

The mayor also said the increase in traffic when it is diverted from the interstate into Jemison makes it very difficult for residents on County Road 44 to get out of their driveways.

One recent accident impacted the town for eight hours, according to Reed.

Reed acknowledged that any solution on Interstate 65 would likely take years.

“Even if they add an extra lane to help with traffic it is going to take awhile, but something needs to be done,” Reed said.

He said the situation would only get worse with planned residential development on county Road 44 and commercial development the county is anticipating.

A recent two-day internet outage has also disrupted local business operations.

“We are planning on contacting the appropriate people, I guess the Public Service Commission,” Reed said. “We are not sure where we are going with this yet.”

He said business have been contacting city officials about not being able to operate during monthly outages, and something needs to be done to fix the situation.

Also during the meeting, the council approved opening an account at Marion Bank and Trust specifically for funds it will receive from the federal American Rescue Plan. Having the separate account will help with keeping good financial records.