Drivers on U.S. 31 in Decatur will eventually have a smoother ride after the highway's resurfacing from Flint to the Tennessee River was added to a list of transportation projects for fiscal 2021.
The Decatur area’s Metropolitan Planning Organization voted Thursday to amend the fiscal 2020-2023 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) to add two resurfacing projects on U.S. 31/Sixth Avenue. One is from south of Alabama 67, or Beltline Road, to the Tennessee River Bridge. The other is from Atkeson Drive to 0.12 of a mile south of Alabama 67. Atkeson Drive is on the south end of the former Lurleen B. Wallace Developmental Center property.
The TIP is a short-range plan with a prioritized list of transportation projects. Both projects were put on the schedule for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
Curtis Vincent, the region engineer for the Alabama Department of Transportation’s North Region, said after the meeting that in early spring “we should have those (resurfacing projects) let to contract.”
However, he doesn't have a construction timeline for the projects. “We don’t establish that until we have construction plans complete," he said.
Vincent said that the two projects are part of ALDOT’s annual resurfacing program for north Alabama.
Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling said after the meeting that the resurfacing work will enhance plans to revitalize Sixth Avenue from the river bridges to Delano Park.
“We’re thrilled to get a new surface on one of our major arteries,” Bowling said.
Improving the appearance of the city's northern entrance is one of the goals in the One Decatur comprehensive plan, developed in 2018 with input from city residents.
The resurfacing will be paid for with a mix of federal and state funding. The work on the northern portion of U.S. 31 is estimated to cost nearly $2.3 million, with about $1.8 million in federal funds and the rest in state money, and the other portion is estimated to cost more than $1.4 million, with about $1.14 million in federal funding and the rest in state money.
“It’s a needed project,” said MPO Director Dewayne Hellums.
The MPO’s policy board also approved adding rights of way and utilities for replacing the northbound and southbound U.S. 31 bridges over the Norfolk Southern railroad to the fiscal 2020-2023 Transportation Improvement Program. The bridges are located between the U.S. 31/Alabama 20 interchange and Calhoun Community College.
The project originally included rebuilding only one bridge. The combined right of way and utilities cost is estimated at $606,000, with the federal share at $484,800.
Bowling asked during the meeting about the duration of the project.
“With Mazda Toyota coming in and tier suppliers, we’ll see additional traffic” combined with traffic around the Calhoun campus, he said. Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA is building a plant in the Greenbrier area, and it’s scheduled to start production next year.
Vincent said a timeline hasn't been established for the bridge project.
“Once we get further into the design, we’ll have timelines on the construction,” Vincent said. “Usually when projects are let, we’ll assign a timeline to it.”