Traffic relief Plans under way to address traffic problems

Plans are in the works to alleviate some of the traffic on a heavily traveled road in Helena.

The Alabama Department of Transportation held a public hearing last week to present preliminary plans to widen Morgan Road (County Road 52) from South Shades Crest Road to State Road 261 in Helena.

Representatives from the Department of Transportation and the civil engineering firm, Almon Associates Inc. were on hand at Riverside Baptist Church in Helena to provide information and answer questions about the proposed project.

The Federal Highway Administration approved an Environmental Assessment for the project on July 25. Almon Associates was hired by Shelby County and the city of Hoover to oversee that assessment.

The Corridor/Design Hearing outlined the project, which covers a 4.9-mile stretch of road and will cost an estimated $16.3 million.

The current proposal includes plans to turn the existing two-lane road into sections of both five-lane highway and four-lane highway with a median.

In addition, a new bridge would be constructed to cross the Cahaba River.

According to documents distributed by the Department of Transportation, the project impacts about a quarter of an acre of wetlands and 14 potential hazardous material sites.

Seven businesses and 11 residences face potential relocation.

The documents also denote cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to minimize impact to two federally protected species, the Round Rock Snail and Cahaba Shiner, which are known to live in the area.

James R. Brown, executive vice president of Almon Associates, said public comments are encouraged within 10 days of the meeting.

Public comments along with environmental impacts, engineering aspects and cost will be used to progress the design of the project, according to the Alabama Department of Transportation.

Comments can be sent to Mr. J. F. Horsley, Division Engineer, Alabama Department of Transportation, P.O. Box 2745, Birmingham, AL 35202-2745, ATTN: Mrs. Sandra F. P. Bonner. The project number for the Widening of Morgan Road (CR 52) is STPBH-7116(1)