By Benjamin Bullard
The Cullman Times
GOOD HOPE —
The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) hosted a busy design hearing on land issues related to the construction of a proposed interchange at Interstate 65 and County Road 222 Tuesday.
The hearing, held at Good Hope School, drew interested residents and property owners affected by the new exit, as well as the local legislative delegation and ALDOT engineers.
Although several tracts of private property in the construction zone must still be obtained by ALDOT before work on the interchange can go forward, their owners expressed a tone of curious concern — rather than opposition to the project — at the informal session.
“I’ve been expecting this, more or less, almost ever since my daddy bought the place in 1961,” said Ronnie Parker, one of 10 property owners whose land lies within the construction zone. “Ever since then, we all have known that, sooner or later, an interchange was gonna go in here. It’s needed; I don’t have a problem with them doing it. I’m just waiting to see what they offer me.
“They told me three months ago that they would make me an offer, but I haven’t heard from them yet. I don’t know why, because it looks like it’s going to have to be done. I don’t want to live up against all the noise, if they put an exit in there,” added Parker, whose home lies on the southwest corner of the proposed interchange. “If they give me a good price, I don’t have a problem relocating. It’s not like I have a choice, though. Where I go will depend on what kind of money I get. Right now I’m still just waiting.”
On the opposite side of the interstate live Les and Faye Johns, an elderly couple who occupy an old mobile home on property that sits within the triangular area that will one day serve as a grassy median for the northbound off ramp.
Eddie Reid, Faye’s son, said it’s been tough to convince his family that it’s in their interest to sell their land and move. But he doesn’t see an alternative, and said that relocating might offer his aging mother and stepfather a more viable living arrangement than the one they’re in now.
“I told my mother it’s a golden opportunity to try to get into some kind of assisted living,” said Reid. “My parents have a lot of pride, so it hasn’t been easy. But that trailer that’s there now is from the 1960s, and it’s getting dilapidated. Really, it’s a hardship on my mother to keep living there. I think I’ve finally convinced her it will be good to work with them [ALDOT].”
Like Parker, Reid has no issue with ALDOT locating a new interchange at CR 222.
“This is needed, you know — there’s so much going on in the industrial parks, and there’s a lot of traffic,” he said. “It’s a project that should have already been done. I can’t believe it’s been put off as long as it has.”
Benjamin Bullard can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 734-2131 ext. 270.