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THURSDAY, MAY 31, 2007
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Turn lanes not a part of paving of U.S. 72

By Holly Hollman
hhollman@decaturdaily.com∑ 340-2445

ATHENS — Donít honk those car horns for joy just yet.

The roadwork on U.S. 72 west of Athens is not the addition of a turn lane.

Johnny Harris, division engineer with the Department of Transportation, said the work is part of the stateís routine resurfacing program.

Harris said workers will widen one portion of the highway during this paving. Calvary Baptist Church is close enough to an intersection, Harris said, for workers to get a short center lane. Calvary is on U.S. 72 near Glaze Road.

Motorists need to be aware that during the paving, speed limits are lower and sections of the highway will be one lane only.

Motorists wonít see a disruption for turn-lane construction for several more years.

The addition of a turn lane from the western Athens city limits to the Lauderdale County line still is in the corridor study phase, Harris said.

Right-of-way acquisition still is about two years away, Harris said. The state will have to get right of way to widen the highway for the turn lane.

The 15-mile stretch has been the site of at least 30 fatalities since 1994. A December 2004 wreck on the wet highway killed three people, which prompted the state to lower speed limits and increase trooper patrols. It prompted citizens to petition the state for a turn lane.

During a stop in Athens in November 2006, Gov. Bob Riley said the project has $24 million. He said the projectís schedule indicates completion in 2010.

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