State planning to elevate Highway 52 over railroad tracks

Published 6:28 pm Monday, August 8, 2011

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Alabama and Pelham officials are seeking federal funding to straighten Shelby County 52 between U.S. 31 and Clark Street and elevate the heavily traveled road over two high-traffic railroad crossings.

In early June, the Pelham City Council voted to pay the AECOM company to conduct engineering and environmental studies on straightening and widening Shelby County 52 west of U.S. 31 leading into Helena.

“The county is looking at widening the road between I-65 and Highway 31. The state will have to do it west of 31,” said Pelham Mayor Don Murphy.

Currently, drivers traveling west on Shelby County 52 from Interstate 65 must turn right onto U.S. 31, cross two lanes of traffic and turn left onto Shelby County 52 near the Ensley-Fairfield Mattress Company. After turning onto Shelby County 52 west, drivers must cross two railroad crossings and navigate a hairpin turn before traveling into Helena.

Through AECOM’s plan, Shelby County 52 a new section of Shelby County 52 would be constructed between U.S. 31 and the Pure Pack Ice company near Clark Street. The new section would be elevated above the two railroad crossings, and would connect with the Shelby County 52 – U.S. 31 intersection south of Home Depot.

If constructed, the new section of Shelby County 52 would provide drivers traveling into and out of Helena and western Pelham a more direct route to the interstate, Murphy said.

“It would eliminate both those railroad crossings and the bridge over the creek,” Murphy said. “We think that is the best way to fix that road. It should have been addressed a long time ago.”

If the new section of Shelby County 52 is constructed, the current section of the road will remain operational as a local street, Murphy said.

The city and state are currently awaiting the passage of federal funding before the Alabama Department of Transportation can move forward with the project, Murphy said.

“Senators Bachus and Shelby put $12 million in a federal transportation budget to fund this project,” Murphy said. “Whether that bill gets passed without modification, we’ll see.”

Murphy said the state likely would have to purchase property along the road’s new route if the project is approved, but he said he could not provide a timeline for the project.

“This thing is really in the infant stages right now,” Murphy said. “It’s a work in progress right now, but at least we have people talking about it.”