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Construction at the intersection of Old Moulton Road and Modaus Road will have to wait.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Construction at the intersection of Old Moulton Road and Modaus Road will have to wait.

Morgan intersection work to cost more than set aside

By Catherine Godbey
cgodbey@decaturdaily.com · 340-2441

Speedy, stylish and streamlined, the Porsche Carrera can reach 60 mph in 3.9 seconds. So why isn’t everyone driving a Porsche?

The cost, which is $484,000 before taxes.

For Morgan County Engineer Greg Bodley, the intersection of Modaus and Old Moulton roads symbolizes the Porsche: too expensive for the allotted money.

Two years ago, the Metropolitan Planning Organization approved $15,000 for preliminary engineering and $115,000 for construction to improve the intersection.

“The $130,000, however, comes no where close to covering the project,” Bodley said. “I estimate improvements would cost over a million dollars.”

Project costs skyrocketed because of an increase in developments, which raised the expense of utility relocation and right-of-way acquisition.

Unforeseen obstacles

Along with a population increase, unforeseen obstacles augmented the project’s cost. When the Morgan County Engineering Department evaluated the intersection, it discovered drainage problems.

“Originally we were going to make basic improvements, like widening the road, but we didn’t want to just do a patch job,” Bodley said.

When funding becomes available, the Engineering Department plans to realign the roads and improve the drainage.

Morgan County District 1 Commissioner Jeff Clark recognizes the danger the amount of traffic and the formatting of the streets poses.

“The traffic causes a bottleneck, and the streets aren’t square with one another, that creates problems, especially with night-time drivers,” Clark said.

Even though funding for the project is not available, additions to the intersection, including a four-way stop and signs along the pavement, have increased safety.

“Accidents have decreased tremendously,” Clark said. “Before the four-way stop was put up, there was a wreck almost every week.”

Judy Casey and Carol Harris, area residents, agree the four-way stop has reduced the number of accidents but believe more improvements are needed.

“It’s just horrible out there,” Casey said. “Even with the four-way stop, there are still a lot wrecks at that intersection.”

Narrow turns

Harris identifies the narrowness of the turns as the source of most of the wrecks. Clark said the signs and posts along the roadway alert drivers to the curve of the road.

With the intersection project out of reach, Morgan County officials are looking to redirect the appropriated money to a less expensive project.

Two years ago, the Engineering Department compiled a list of projects that the county needed to address. A combination of larger vehicles, an increase in traffic and the bridge’s age landed Means Bridge near the top of the priority list.

Spanning West Flint Creek on Danville Road, the narrow concrete bridge sports an uneven pavement and a crumbling guardrail.

“The bridge is deteriorating,” Clark said. “It’s safe for the daily traffic, but we have reduced the weight limits allowed on it.”

To battle today’s oversized vehicles and the population growth, Means Bridge will receive a total restoration.

“With the number of structural problems, we are planning on just replacing the bridge,” Bodley said.

Restoration plans remain on hold until the Metropolitan Planning Organization approves the redirection of the funds.

Dewayne Hellums, transportation director for the North-central Alabama Regional Council of Governments, said he sees no reason why the MPO would not approve the transfer of funds.

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