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THURSDAY, JUNE 21, 2007
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Chamber discusses avenue widening

By Eric Fleischauer
eric@decaturdaily.com 340-2435

If the city aborted a project to widen Spring Avenue Southwest, Dewayne Hellums of the North Central Alabama Regional Council of Governments told the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce, the city would have to refund federal money already spent.

Speaking at the Chamber's board of directors meeting Wednesday, Hellums said construction is to begin in fiscal 2008, which begins Oct. 1.

The issue arose because City Councilman Ray Metzger recently questioned the necessity of the $5.06 million project.

"The project started in 2004," said Chamber President John Seymour. "2007 is not the time to express your opinion."

Relieving congestion

Morgan County Economic Development Association Chairman Lynn Fowler told Chamber members the widening would have increasing importance after the opening of The Crossings of Decatur shopping center. Spring Avenue, he said, eventually would serve as an alternate route for drivers on U.S. 31, relieving congestion on the thoroughfare.

"Three years ago there was a need for the project," Seymour said. "It probably hasn't gone away."

"Transportation projects take a long time to develop," Hellums said. "It's very hard to start and stop them."

Also at the meeting, board member Rick Paler said the Downtown Redevelopment Authority would use an $80,000 grant from the city of Decatur to hire a full-time director.

Paler said he hopes to identify a new director soon. The director's office may be at the Decatur Business Incubator, Paler said.

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