Helena opens portion of Hillsboro Parkway

Parents and students at Helena Middle School now have an easier way to beat the rush hour traffic.

On Feb. 18, the city of Helena opened most of the new Hillsboro Parkway, which runs from Shelby County 52 to Shelby County 91.

The rest of the parkway involves improvements to Shelby County 17 and should open soon, according to a U.S. Steel press release.

The Hillsboro Parkway project, which cost $9.9 million and was funded completely by U.S. Steel, is the result of a partnership between Helena and U.S. Steel.

Council member Cris Nelson said the parkway is the first step towards developing Hillsboro, a new residential community.

“People have to remember that it’s not going to be tomorrow, and it’s not going to be next year, but the future development in that area is going to be residential,” Nelson said.

She said, however, the highway helps to solve an immediate problem.

“The immediate need is access to the school,” Nelson said. “This is very positive for the parents that have to take that route.”

The project includes the 2.5-mile Hillsboro Parkway, the addition of turn lanes on Shelby County 52, more than a mile of multi-use paved trails and a pedestrian tunnel under Shelby County 52, which connects the Hillsboro community with the middle school.

Also, a new connection road from the Old Cahaba subdivision on Stone Creek Drive provides additional access to the middle school.

The multi-use trails are close to completion and should be open to the public in the spring of this year, according to the press release.

Helena Mayor Sonny Penhale said he expects Hillsboro Parkway to help develop businesses in the city.

“We value the relationship that the city has with U.S. Steel. Their commitment to complete the project has been solid, even in a down economy,” he said. “The construction of the parkway will drive commercial development in the future and will add revenue to the city.”