The Decatur City Council is considering applying for grants focused on improvements to Sixth Avenue and Beltline Road Southwest.
Wally Terry, city director of development, said the first is a $104,900 grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation, with the match funded in a public-private partnership, to hire a consultant to study improvements to the safety and beautification of Sixth Avenue.
The city would share the $20,900 match with the Decatur Corridor Development Committee, a group formed by the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce.
John Seymour, chamber president and CEO, said the chamber’s Residential Growth Committee has met with several developers on possible significant projects like apartments, residential housing and multi-use developments.
“Everyone mentions that our entrance (from the north) is not attractive,” Seymour said. “It needs to look nice if someone is coming to visit the Cook Museum (of Natural Science), downtown or the riverfront.”
Residents also expressed through the One Decatur comprehensive plan that they want to beautify this entrance to the city.
The north end of Sixth Avenue, just south of the causeway, has an average daily traffic count of 48,900, according to ALDOT data.
Seymour said the main problem is there are too many rundown stores that are not attractive.
“Some are empty and could be bought,” Seymour said. “We can ask property owners to clean up their properties. We could also bury utilities. This is why we’re looking for someone from the outside to tell us what works in other cities and give us some ideas.”
Seymour said the chamber had positive results when it hired consultants to study the city’s riverfront and downtown areas, and he expects the same with a consultant on Sixth Avenue.
City Engineer Carl Prewitt said the city is seeking a $2.5 million to $3 million no-match grant from ALDOT to realign five intersections on Beltline Road. The intersections are between Danville Road and Spring Avenue.
City officials have long complained that the left-turn traffic signals held motorists too long in the center lanes of the Beltline before turning green and drivers would often run the turn signal when no one was coming.
However, state officials said they couldn’t reduce the length of a stop and allow more turns on yellow unless the left turn lanes are shifted to improve the sight line for drivers. The turn lanes need to be moved to the left so that drivers' view of oncoming traffic is not obstructed by vehicles waiting in the opposite turn lane.
Terry said the city didn’t have the money at the time, but the money will be available after the recently approved gas-tax increase takes effect in October.
The average daily traffic count on this section of the Beltline is 30,290, according to ALDOT.
If enough money is available from the state, Prewitt said the city would also like to add a third lane to the west side of Old Moulton Road where it accesses Beltline Road.
“It really backs up in the afternoons after school,” Prewitt said.
The city added a lane on the east side of the intersection and it’s worked well, he said.
This would be a no-match grant, Terry said.