News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
TUESDAY, JUNE 13, 2006


City Hall holds cards to Alabama 20 success

A traffic consultant's remarks at the Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting Friday were a challenge to local authorities about improving traffic flow on Alabama 20.

"It will take a lot of backbone on the part of the people in charge," Mickey Hall of Skipper Consulting said. He said Skipper is about a month away from making recommendations on how to handle traffic in the area that should have the city's next major growth spurt.

Without severe restrictions on access, the four-lane highway is destined to become a perpetual traffic jam and hazard.

Some of the most controversial recommendations expected to come include restricting direct access to the highway and closing medians. The study probably will recommend reducing "conflict points" from 36 to two and building frontage or service roads.

Developers have for years contended that doing these improvements will drive up the cost of land and make the area unattractive for development.

But in reality, not doing this planning will cost more long range in accidents, traffic congestion and unsightliness.

Mayor Don Kyle said the city may have to share in some of the cost. It's encouraging to hear the mayor take that attitude.

Gov. Bob Riley addressed the possibility of the state financing the project a few days before the June 6 primary elections. He said Decatur should look to Huntsville as a role model for getting the state to do more. Huntsville, he said, puts local money into road projects.

The city may be able to modify some of the expected recommendations, but to change the plan significantly to accommodate developers makes no sense. Nor is it realistic to expect the state to take care of all of the problems.

As Mr. Hall said, it's going to take backbone.

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