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FRIDAY, MARCH 25, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Let's keep traffic lights off Alabama 20 East

Calvary Assembly of God's sincere efforts to keep traffic lights from going up on Alabama 20 East deserve everyone's appreciation. So does the City Council for its resolution members approved this week that expresses interest in the congregation looking for ways to avoid installing lights when it builds its new building.

Keeping those lights off the section of road between the causeway and Interstate 65 is important to everyone who lives in, works in or passes through Decatur.

The congregation wanted the city's encouragement to pursue the possibility of tax increment financing for an interchange. If the city wasn't interested, the congregation saw no reason to spend money for a study.

The resolution doesn't specifically mention TIF, but it does express to the congregation the city's willingness to hear its proposal.

TIF sounds like government giveaway but is not. In Calvary's case, it owns a 180-acre site on the south side of Alabama 20 on which it plans to put a church building, along with commercial and residential development.

That development will generate tax dollars for the city that it would not otherwise get.

Calvary hopes the tax dollars will be sufficient to finance a $9 million interchange that will help keep the highway from becoming snarled with traffic, like Beltline Road.

The city is not committed to the project. If the study, however, projects enough tax revenue from new development to pay for the interchange, committing seems like a logical step.

Decatur already has sewerage along that strip of the road. To maximize that investment, getting an interchange using a TIF instead of traffic lights is imperative. The city needs the interchange now, long before the state might agree to build one.

Let's hope the study yields favorable information.

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