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SATURDAY, JULY 7, 2007
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Warning lights for I-65 bridge planned

By Catherine Godbey
cgodbey@decaturdaily.com 340-2441

To combat the danger of icy conditions, federal, state and local governments are working to increase the safety of the Interstate 65 bridge across the Tennessee River.

On Friday, the Metropolitan Planning Organization approved a weather monitoring system for the bridge. Safety concerns motivated the MPO to try to alleviate the danger of freezing temperatures, which can make crossing the bridge hazardous. The system consists of sensors that will warn motorists about the bridge's condition.

According to Dewayne Hellums, director of transportation planning for the North-central Alabama Regional Council of Governments, the sensors will set off a red blinking light alerting motorists if the bridge is conducive to icy conditions.

Johnny Harris, division engineer with the state Department of Transportation, expects the monitoring system to be in operation for winter 2008. Federal funds are budgeted to cover the cost of installation, which is estimated to total $2.3 million.

Hellums said he hopes the system is eventually upgraded to the Intelligent Transportation System, which tracks weather and traffic.

"We will continue to build on this system," Hellums said. "The ITS system would allow us to notify drivers of accidents on the bridge and give them alternate routes."

Along with a weather monitoring system, the bridge is scheduled for renovation in 2010. The project includes cleaning and painting the bridge and possibly raising the height of the guardrails.

The bridge improvements are one part of a draft Transportation Improvement Plan that the MPO passed for the Decatur area.

The plan contains the federal, state and local projects scheduled in the next four years.

Yearly updates

Even though the plan runs through 2011, Hellums said the MPO will update the projects on a yearly basis.

NARCOG will hold a public meeting to discuss the draft at the NARCOG office, 216 Jackson St. S.E., on July 19 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Anyone can inspect the doc-ument during the public review period, which lasts until Aug. 6.

A copy of the document is at the NARCOG office and on NARCOG's Web site, www.narcog.org.

Additional construction slated for 2000-08 includes:

  • Widening of Spring Avenue from Day Road to Cedar Lake Road Southwest, $3.9 million.

  • Widening of Beltine Road Southwest from Alabama 24 to Alabama 20, $3 million.

  • Add lanes on Alabama 67 from Alabama 24 to Alabama 20, $3 million for construction in 2008.

  • Intersection improvements at Modaus Road and Old Moulton Road Southwest, $115,000.

  • Expansion of Decatur Bikeway from Eighth Street Southwest to Wilson Morgan Park, $300,000.

  • Construction of a new two lane road from North Sparkman Street to Hammitt Street in Hartselle, $955,000.

  • Improvements to the railroad crossings at Hospital Road and Thomas Hammonds Road, $254,000.

  • Intersection improvements at Bethel Road and Cave Springs Road in Priceville, $115,000.

    Draft of the Transportation Improvement Plan projects

  • Addition of landscaping and lighting on the Decatur campus at Calhoun Community College, $223,000 for construction in 2007.

  • Widening of Alabama 36 from Roan Road in Hartselle to Interstate 65, $2.75 million for right of way in 2009.

  • Replace the bridge over Gum Spring Creek, $75,000 for preliminary engineering in 2008 and $700,000 for construction in 2010.

  • Replace bridges and approaches on Alabama 20 over Fox Creek, $330,000 for preliminary engineering in 2008 and $3 million for construction in 2010.

  • Replace bridges and approaches on Alabama 20 over Mallard Creek, $300,000 for preliminary engineering in 2008 and $3 million for construction in 2010.

  • Resurfacing of I-65 from Hurricane Creek to 0.6 mile South of Alabama 36, $300,000 for preliminary engineering in 2010 and $7.6 million for construction in 2010.

  • Resurfacing of I-65 from 0.6 mile South of Alabama 36 to 1.1 miles South of Interstate 565, $350,000 for preliminary engineering in 2010 and $8.99 million for construction in 2011.

  • Replace bridge over Big Nance Creek, $250,000 for preliminary engineering in 2010 and $50,000 for right of way in 2011.

  • Replace the bridge over Cedar Creek in North Falkville, $110,000 for preliminary engineering in 2009.

  • Cedar Creek bridge, $60,000 for right of way in 2010.

  • Cedar Creek bridge, $35,000 for utility relocation and $880,000 for construction in 2011.

  • Add lanes on Thompson Road, $300,000 for right of way in 2011.

  • Addition of Veterans Parkway from Danville Road to U.S. 31, $443,000 for preliminary engineering in 2008 and $1.65 million for right of way in 2010

  • Addition of Veterans Parkway from U.S. 31 to I-65, $1.09 million for preliminary engineering in 2011.

    - Catherine Godbey

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