News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Too late to change highway plans now

Anyone who has experienced the planning of an interstate highway knows that the process is slow and tedious.

Some who have participated in the process have said that it makes glaciers seem like jackrabbits in comparison. There are meetings with federal, state and local transportation officials and politicians. There are public hearings and environmental impact studies. There are cost-benefit analyses. Finally, after several proposals are developed, there are more meetings and public hearings.

All of this takes years before selecting a route. Then Congress and legislatures must appropriate funds, engineers must survey and acquire land, and transportation departments must bid and award contracts before moving any dirt, let alone paving.

The process takes decades. It is not for the impatient.

Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce President John Seymour began working on the proposed Atlanta-to-Memphis highway project more than 10 years ago.

I am 63, and I wont see it completed, Mr. Seymour said.

Now, new state Rep. Mike Curtis, D-Greenhill, wants to throw a wrench into the superhighway plan. He proposes a spur connecting Florence to Interstate 565 to promote economic growth, which he believes bypasses the Shoals.

Unfortunately for Mr. Curtis, plans already exist for much of the highway. Those plans, complicated by legal delays and environmental concerns, took more than a decade to develop.

It is understandable — even commendable — that Mr. Curtis wants to improve the prospects of economic growth for his constituents. But it is also much too late to try to change course now.

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