By Ashley Graves
The Cullman Times
Drivers traveling U.S. Highway 278 East beware. Traffic is about to be moving a little slower along one stretch of the roadway.
Within the past two weeks, the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) has placed reduced speed and road work ahead signs beginning at 6th Ave. SE down to the light at Convent Road. A number of orange and white barrels are also barricading three buildings which have been sitting vacant since the April 27, 2011 tornado.
The prep work is all part of a demolition project that could begin as early as Friday with the approval from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM).
"We're asking people to bear with us," ALDOT project manager Steve Davis said. "There could be some congestion as work is going on, so we're asking people to be careful and drive safe when traveling through the work zone."
Davis noted that while they don't anticipate having to close the roadway down to one lane for long periods of time throughout the day, he couldn't rule out the possibility of having to do such a thing for a brief few moments to allow for debris removal.
"We do have that in the plans just in case," Davis said.
The project is listed as a working day job with a 30-day timeframe for completion, depending upon the weather.
"Weather plays a big part," Davis said. "But once we get started, it shouldn't take long."
The pieces of property where the buildings currently stand were acquired by the state last year for future plans to four-lane that stretch of roadway. Currently, Highway 278 is four-lane through Cullman until it reaches 4th Avenue SE, where it merges into a two-lane span for about a mile before widening into a four-lane road again.
The project would require a new bridge that could take 2-3 years to build, followed by the road work portion. There's been no word as to when that may begin.
*Ashley Graves can be reached by phone at 734-2131, ext. 225, or by email at email@example.com