Agencies, developer eye traffic fixes on Highway 52

Published 10:18 am Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A new turn lane from Shelby County 52 east onto Interstate 65 north could be added in the next several months. (Contributed)

A new turn lane from Shelby County 52 east onto Interstate 65 north could be added in the next several months. (Contributed)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Pelham City Councilman Ron Scott said the city is working with a developer and state and county highway departments to possibly add a new turn lane on Shelby County 52 east before school begins in August 2014.

During a Nov. 19 town hall meeting at the Pelham Civic Complex, Scott said C&A Enterprises is working with the city and the highway departments to help ease traffic congestion near the Interstate 65 northbound onramp before moving forward with plans to construct an apartment complex on Huntley Parkway.

C&A has requested the city rezone a piece of currently vacant property on Huntley Parkway to accommodate a new 228-unit apartment complex.

During an August public hearing on the rezoning, several Pelham residents expressed concern about the proposed development’s impact on rush hour traffic along Shelby County 52 west of Interstate 65.

In September, the City Council agreed to table the rezoning request to allow the developer to present proposals to ease traffic in the area.

Scott said “phase one” of the proposed traffic project includes adding an additional turn lane from Shelby County 52 eastbound onto I-65 northbound to allow drivers to more easily access the interstate in the morning.

“This is just phase one. We’ve got to look at a long-term solution,” Scott said, noting the new turn lane should be complete by August 2014. “Once we take off the table the traffic concerns, we can give a fair hearing to those (apartment) developers.”

City Council President Rick Hayes said county and state studies have indicated an apartment development and a traditional home development would bring the same traffic impacts to Huntley Parkway and Shelby County 52.

Scott said Pelham is facing a “growth issue” in the face of an “exodus of people from Jefferson County,” and said the city likely will see other apartment complexes looking to build in Pelham in the future.

“This will not be the first apartment complex of this size looking to come to Pelham,” Scott said.