By Lauren Estes
The Cullman Times
HOLLY POND —
Local legislators and representatives from the Alabama Department of Transportation met last week to discuss how to use funding for upcoming projects, including a $23 million plan to improve the intersection of Alabama Highway 69 and U.S. Highway 278.
State Rep. Randall Shedd said the reason for the meeting on Friday was to gather input from senators and representatives about the completion of road projects, including the completion of the four-lane project of Highway 278 to Blount County, which began under former Gov. Guy Hunt.
“We as a group of senators and representatives wanted to identify a strategy in order to see the project completed,” Shedd said. “We understand the full completion will be a long-term process, but we wanted to get with ALDOT and make plans sooner rather than later. Obviously the obstacle on this plan is the cost. The revenue the state has is limited and we wanted to identify what the most needed sections were, as this group is working closely together.”
The design for the $23 million project in Cullman is a five-lane curb and gutter project and a bridge at Eight Mile Creek. There will also be sidewalks on both sides of 4th Avenue in downtown Cullman to St. Bernard drive, then a sidewalk on the north side up to 69. The length of construction is 1.81 miles. The daily traffic is about 17,000 vehicles.
Although the project will be an asset to Cullman, concerns were raised at the meeting about rural areas such as in Blount, Cullman, and Dekalb counties were seeking equal opportunities to gain financial support through grants, where they often feel overlooked in comparison to larger marketable areas that might receive more financial assistance.
“Under the Guy Hunt administration, the Highway 278 project began and it still has a lot of sections which have not been completed,” Shedd said. “Obviously, we don’t want to take away from any other projects, but that is something we are hopeful to see completed in the near future. We’re also excited that Highway157 is scheduled to be worked on next year. I think it’s good for us to get together and have a better understanding.”
Among those present at the meeting at the Guy Hunt Museum in Holly Pond were Sen. Paul Bussman, Rep. Shedd, Sen. Clay Scofield, Rep. Mack Butler, Holly Pond Mayor Herman Nail, Snead Mayor Curtis Painter, Marshall County Legislative office representative Judy Miller, Sen. Phil Williams, Rep. David Standridge, Cullman County Economic Development representative Ashley Graves, and ALDOT employees Johnny Harris and Les Hopson.
Lauren Estes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-734-2131, ext. 137.