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A pickup at the intersection of Central Parkway Southwest and Cedar Lake on Sunday.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
A pickup at the intersection of Central Parkway Southwest and Cedar Lake on Sunday.

Hard riding on Central Ave.
Decatur officials not saying if paving planned

By Evan Belanger
ebelanger@decaturdaily.com· 340-2442

Central Avenue Southwest has been pocked with potholes and prone to flooding for decades, but Decatur officials are mum on whether they will include it on the road-paving list due out this month.

Known for poor drainage, flooding, potholes and rough crossings, Central Avenue serves as an alternate route to U.S. 31 for motorists traveling between Decatur and Flint, Hartselle and rural south Morgan County.

It connects with downtown Decatur via Central Parkway on the north side of Beltline Road.

Those who drive it frequently say it has been in terrible shape for as long as they can remember — particularly the stretch between Cedar Lake and Austinville-Flint roads.

“I’ve been driving on it for 13 years,” said Marilyn Blackburn, who works at Technology Molded Plastics on Central Parkway. “I guess I’ve kind of gotten used to it being so rough.”

Linda Matthews, who has lived on Central Avenue with her husband for about 40 years, said resident-led efforts to make improvements to the road date back decades.

She said they held a public meeting about 25 years ago, requesting that the city repave the road and install curbs and gutters. “They did every area except for us on the south side of the Beltline,” she said. “They just stopped.”

Matthews said the road has not been paved since at least the 1990s.

City officials are saying little about the possibility of improvements on the roadway in the near future.

Engineering Department Director Mark Petersohn said the road-paving list is expected out by mid-July. He said he could not release the list or any of the roads on it until entities like Decatur Utilities approve the plan.

“We’re still evaluating any conflicts we might have,” he said. “We don’t want to pave something that they’re just going to dig back up in a couple of months.”

Likewise, District 3 Councilman Gary Hammon, whose district the road bisects, said he doesn’t know if there are any plans to improve the road.

“I try to let engineering determine the best and most prudent places to repave,” he said. “I just think that’s the fair way to do it.”

The list could come up for discussion at a City Council work session as early as July 30 and be up for approval by Aug. 6. It will detail all local streets set for resurfacing by the Engineering Department.

According to Matthews, she and others who reside on Central Avenue just hope their street gets city attention soon.

“We would love to have drainage out here, and curb and gutter out here also,” she said. “But they wouldn’t do it.”

One thing Matthews said has improved in her neighborhood since the current council was elected is mowing. She said previous councils would go months without cutting the grass on the roadsides.

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