News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Morgan County needs proposed Parkway project

Construction of a proposed toll road to link Interstate 65 with Alabama 20 got new legs recently after the project appeared to be dead.

The new proposal involves only private money, unlike the original $250 million public-private partnership former Mayor Lynn Fowler pushed two years ago.

Building a public road would require millions of dollars that the state doesn't have. Proposing to use toll fees to pay for construction, operation and maintenance was an alternative to using tax dollars .

The project stalled for several reasons, one being who was to pay for a feasibility study.

Rich Volk is president and CEO of New Century Transportation that hopes to revive the road as a private venture. He's familiar with the project, having been part of the original group involved in developing the concept. He thinks the project can be sound financially.

Lawrence and Morgan County commissions gave approval for the new venture this week, and Hartselle and Decatur are expected to do so in the coming weeks.

Six-laning Beltline Road, if it ever happens, isn't the solution to Decatur's traffic problem. The proposed Veterans Parkway is, because it would take through traffic off the Beltline and it would help complete a loop around the city.

It's also important to Hartselle because, although it is to be limited access, the parkway would open property north of the city for development.

Mr. Volk's next step after getting approval from the four governments will be to find investors willing to pay for the $250,000 feasibility study.

That Mr. Volk hasn't given up on the project is encouraging. That the 17-mile interstate-type road might be done without tax dollars and completed within this decade is even better news.

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