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WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2006
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Resetting traffic signals hits yellow light
Funds from state are less than anticipated

By Chris Paschenko
chris@decaturdaily.com 340-2442

Despite funding issues, one Decatur city councilman said he wants the city to move forward with a project to reset traffic signals on two major thoroughfares.

In November, the council approved a plan to evenly split the cost of resetting lights on two state highways with the state Transportation Department.

Mayor Don Kyle told the council that the state agreed to fund only $20,000 of the $90,000 project to reset signals on U.S. 31 and Alabama 67. The project would cover signals from the Hudson Memorial Bridge to Kathy Lane Southwest.

'$20,000 ahead'

"We'd pay in the low $60,000 range instead of $40,000," Kyle said. "The council approved the project if the state funded half of it, so they'd have to amend that resolution at this lower level of state participation before letting a contract. But the good news is the state initially said they didn't have any money to put into it. We're really $20,000 ahead of where we were."

Councilman Ronny Russell said he would lobby for the city to move forward on the project.

"I was the one who initiated appropriating the funds to do this in the 2006 budget and will definitely support the necessary funds on our end to see it accomplished in the 2007 budget even if more than originally anticipated," Russell said.

Rush-hour commuters frequently stop at subsequent signals, a problem that could be solved with resetting the timing on Alabama 67, also known as Beltline Road.

Russell said the timing hasn't been reset in 13 or 14 years. Decatur has seen significant retail growth since then.

"The citizens of Decatur deserve the traffic improvement, and I look forward to seeing it completed," Russell said. "I haven't spoken with (City Chief Financial Officer Gail) Busbey about it, but I am sure we will address any additional funding needs during our capital review in January."

No time frame

No time frame has been set for the project.

Russell said before the funding issue that the project could be completed by the spring before instillation of two additional traffic signals at The Crossings of Decatur, a 200,000-square-foot shopping center with Target as its anchor.

Target has planned an October 2007 grand opening.

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