Helena residents weigh in on Helena Bypass

By KATIE HURST/ Staff Writer

HELENA — Helena residents gathered at the Helena Community Center Nov. 19 to voice their opinions on the construction of a new bypass through Helena.

The Alabama Department of Transportation hosted a public hearing from 4-7 p.m., in a come-and-go format where residents could review the maps and plans, meet one-on-one with experts and fill out opinion forms.

According to ALDOT officials, the proposed project would create a bypass around historic downtown Helena beginning on Shelby County Road 52 and ending on Valleydale Road.

ALDOT Preconstruction Engineer Lance Taylor said the purpose of the project is to provide an effective and efficient roadway for the current and planned growth of Helena.

Taylor said he was pleased with the turnout at the public hearing, and was glad to have the public’s input.

One item that was important for residents to weigh in on was the selection of an alternative route during the construction of the bypass, he said. Those at the public hearing saw a proposal for four different alternative routes.

Chris Ramsey filled out an opinion form at the public hearing and said he was pleased with the project.

“It’s just going to take all the traffic out of old town and it opens up a lot of acres in the city, both residential and commercial,” he said.

City Council member Cris Nelson said the bypass has been in the planning stages for a long time and many are excited that it’s finally coming to fruition.

“A lot of people have been doubting that this was really happening, but it is real and it’s coming,” she said.

The total estimated cost of the project is approximately $18-$20 million, Taylor said. The project is scheduled for final approval in early 2011. If approved, construction will begin in mid- to late- 2013.