Mayor speaks with ALDOT on road projects

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Pelham Mayor Don Murphy said there could be “more progress than we’ve seen in the past” over the next several months on the Alabama Department of Transportation’s plan to widen Shelby County 261.

Murphy’s comments came after he met with ALDOT Director John Cooper, who spent the day at Pelham City Hall while meeting with officials from several Birmingham-area municipalities to discuss road concerns in the area.

“I’m happy that Mr. Cooper took his time to come here and meet with us, rather than all of us trying to go to him in Montgomery,” Murphy said. “We had a real good day. I appreciate him coming to Pelham.”

Two of the biggest projects Murphy discussed with Cooper were plans to straighten and elevate Shelby County 52 between U.S. 31 and Clark street, and plans to widen Shelby County 261 to five lanes from Bearden Road to U.S. 31.

ALDOT recently purchased about 10 properties along Alabama 261, including the former Dance Et Cetera and a building at 2995 Valleydale Terrace, and has already moved or demolished several structures to make way for the widening project.

“Mr. Cooper said 261 is in the hurry-up mode, and they are going to try to push it through as quickly as they can,” Murphy said. “I told him it’s a mess right now. It’s bumper-to-bumper on that road.

“I think we will start seeing more progress on that road than we have in the past,” Murphy added.

The two also discussed plans to elevate Shelby County 52 over a pair of high-traffic railroad tracks behind City Hall.

The Pelham City Council recently voted to fund environmental studies on straightening and elevating the road. The city and state are currently awaiting the passage of federal funding before the Alabama Department of Transportation can move forward with the project.

“(Cooper) had lunch with Congressman Bachus, and they talked about several things. One thing they talked about was working to get that federal funding passed so we can move forward with these projects.”

During the meeting, Murphy and Cooper also talked about placing a memorial sign in honor of slain Pelham police officer Philip Davis near the spot the officer was shot and killed on I-65.

Murphy also said the two discussed placing a controllable traffic signal near Pelham City Hall to allow the Fire Department to easily access U.S. 31 during rush-hour traffic.