By Trent Moore
The Cullman Times
With the already heavy traffic flow around 24th Street SW set to increase once automotive component manufacturuer REHAU’s new expansion opens up, Cullman officials have approved a traffic study in hopes of finding a way to alleviate the congestion.
The council has entered into an agreement with Sain Associates to provide traffic engineering services at the intersections of Highway 69 at 24th Street SW and Mize Road North.
“With the REHAU expansion especially we’re looking for a way to help with the public safety there,” Cullman Mayor Max Townson said.
The area has grown in recent years and is now home to several industrial tenants, and Cullman Economic Development Agency Assistant Director Dale Greer said a long-term solution is needed to facilitate the current and future expansions.
“Some of that will look to see if a traffic light is justified,” Greer said. “As you continue to grow industry in that area and have more and more traffic, we have to start looking at the congestion to see what type of fix is justified.”
Officials expect the REHAU expansion to generate 200 new jobs once it ramps up to full capacity over the next two years, which would likely make the traffic situation even worse.
The company is adding 150,000 square feet of manufacturing space as part of a $100 million investment, and approximately $30 million in new equipment will be added immediately.
New fabrication devices and injection molding equipment are also being installed, and the old paint line is being replaced with an environmentally safe water-borne system.
At least a part of the new production is expected to begin in early-to-mid 2013. Once the new line is fully operational, production will increase from 90,000 bumpers-per-year to approximately 540,000 bumpers-per-year.
The expansion is needed to accommodate a new long-term contract with Mercedes-Benz to develop and produce bumper assemblies for the C-Class and M-Class automobile lines. The first models to feature REHAU-produced parts will be the 2015 C-Class and M-Class vehicles.
A representative from REHAU did not return a message left seeking comment by deadline of this article.
* Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.