Additional lanes set for Highway 52 in county

Traffic along bustling Shelby County Highway 52 may soon stretch across three additional lanes, once engineers and contractors complete plans to widen the crowded two-lane road that dissects Pelham and Helena.

Shelby County Engineer Randy Cole said Monday that &uot;plans are presently being developed for that project.&uot;

The project will widen Highway 52 from two to five lanes between County Road 11 and Interstate 65.

A traffic signal will also be installed at County Road 11. Bids for the project could go out to contractors during the first half of 2004, Cole said.

Once contractors are selected, utility infrastructure such as water and sewer lines within Pelham must be relocated. After that, Cole said actual construction for the widening could begin within 90 days.

Cole described the project as &uot;very long and tedious,&uot; noting that engineers began studying Highway 52 several years ago.

Highway 52 has been ripe for the widening project for several years now. According to Cole, Highway 52 already has the amount of traffic to sustain a five-lane highway.

&uot;The amount of traffic already dictates five lanes,&uot; Cole said.

The federal government will supply 80 percent of the project’s cost, Cole said. The city of Pelham has put up 20 percent of the cost so far.

The Highway 52 corridor has become a new source for growth in Pelham, after the city placed a sewer line along the road five years ago. Pelham utilities director Ken Holler said the only place the city has left to grow is down County Road 11, where the city already has a 20-inch water line primed for new construction.

In order for Pelham to grow along County Road 11, however, Holler said the county must increase the amount of water available.

The county is planning for a new water treatment plant on the Coosa River to supply additional water to Pelham for anticipated growth along County Road 11. Holler said the new treatment facility could open in three or four years