Planners set 3-year priorities for roads|
By Martin Burkey
DAILY Staff Writer
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2441
Think of it as a literal roadmap to the Decatur area's future.
The Metropolitan Planning Organization last week passed a draft Decatur area Transportation Improvement Plan that contains all the federal, state and local highway projects scheduled or envisioned for three years.
The group, which includes elected officials from Decatur, Hartselle and Priceville, as well as state and local highway engineers, has to update its future projects every two years, said Dewayne Hellums, director of transportation planning for the North-central Alabama Regional Council of Governments.
NARCOG officials will collect public comments at a meeting at NARCOG, 216 Jackson St., in Decatur on June 14 from 4 to 6 p.m., and June 16 at Hartselle City Hall. The public comment period will be June 9 through Aug. 1. The board will approve the final plan in August.
The plan includes $886,000 annually in federal funding — based on population — for area projects over which the board has oversight. It includes state and local projects where there is no oversight but these must be included, also, Hellums said.
There is the Beltline Road widening project in Decatur that has been hanging for more than a year but is supposed to start this fall. There are also some transportation-related projects, such as the restoration of the Hartselle Railroad Depot and a bike trail in Decatur.
The plan includes some purely notional wish list projects like the Decatur/Hartselle bypass, better known as Veterans Parkway, that may or may not survive the congressional budget process, Hellums said.
All transportation money is largely notional at present. Federal highway programs that technically expired in 2003 are continuing on their seventh stopgap extension because lawmakers can't compromise on a six-year reauthorization bill. The House and Senate passed their bills in May, but conferees haven't met and resolved differences. The latest extension expires June 30. The House bill was $284 billion. The Senate provided $295 billion. The White House wants no more than $284 billion.
Not shown yet in the plan is the extension of Interstate 565 into Decatur. Hellums said it's still winding its way through the state DOT approval process. Transportation planners can add it to the draft plan later this year. Mayor Don Kyle said last week that DOT officials now acknowledge receiving $3 million for the route study and that no local matching funds are required. He said the route study could begin later this year.
The accompanying map shows the location of projects in the Transportation Improvement Program. Those projects, funding, and projected spending year are: Add lanes on Spring Avenue from Day Road to Cedar Lake Road, south of Beltline Road and west of U.S. 31, $500,000 for utility relocation in 2007 and $3.9 million for construction in 2008. Additional lanes on Thompson Road, $300,000 for right of way acquisition and $5.1 million for construction in 2009. Intersection improvements, Modaus Road and Old Moulton Road, $15,000 for preliminary engineering and $115,000 for construction in 2006. Intersection improvements at Bethel Road and Cave Springs Road in Priceville, $13,000 for preliminary engineering and $88,000 for construction in 2006. Additional lanes on Beltline Road from Alabama 24 to Alabama 20, $110,000 for utility relocation in 2005. Bridge replacement on U.S. 31 over Norfolk Southern railroad in Limestone County, $1.3 million for construction in 2009. Maintenance on I-65 bridge over Tennessee River, $400,000 for preliminary engineering and $7.7 million in 2008. Delano Park Trail of History, $250,000 for construction in 2005. Bike trail connecting two Decatur Parks, $300,000 for construction in 2005. Hartselle railroad depot restoration, $75,000 for construction in 2005. Veterans Parkway, $575,000, preliminary engineering in 2005. Veterans Parkway, $1.3 million for right of way acquisition in 2006. Veterans Parkway, $15.5 million for preliminary engineering, right-of-way acquisition and construction in 2008. Veterans Parkway, $27.8 million for preliminary engineering, right-of-way acquisition and construction in 2009. Additional lanes on Beltline Road from U.S. 31 to Danville Road, $800,000 for right of way acquisition, $150,000 for utility relocation in 2005. Additional lanes on Beltline Road from Danville Road to Alabama 24, $5.7 million for construction in 2006. Additional lanes on Beltline Road from Alabama 24 to Alabama 20, $2.75 million for construction in 2006. Additional lanes on Beltline Road from U.S. 31 to Danville Road, $8.2 million for construction in 2007. Lighting for U.S. 31 and Alabama 20 interchange, $500,000 for construction in 2006. New two-lane road from North Sparkman Street to Hammitt Street in Hartselle, $200,000 for right of way acquisition in 2005, $50,000 for utility relocation and $955,000 for construction in 2006. Railroad crossing improvement on Poole Valley Road northeast of Flint City, $115,000 for construction in 2005. Relocate Morgan County 45 at Pryor Field Regional Airport, $125,000 for construction in 2005. $1.86 million for Morgan County Area Transportation System from 2006 through 2008 for operating funds, maintenance, administration and operating assistance.
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