More delays for Shelby County 52 plans

The Pelham City Council has been discussing options to alleviate traffic congetstion on Shelby County 52 between Clark Street and I-65. (Contributed)

The Pelham City Council has been discussing options to alleviate traffic congetstion on Shelby County 52 between Clark Street and I-65. (Contributed)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—Plans to ease congestion on Shelby County 52 by improving the turn on to Interstate 65 have once again stalled as city leaders received word that an interstate modification study will be necessary.

Improvements to ease traffic congestion on Shelby County 52 have been a topic of discussion amongst the Pelham City Council for several months. During a March 17 work session, Aubrey Long of Skipper Engineering posed two viable options to facilitate the right turn from Shelby County 52 onto I-65.

Long presented a “yield-condition,” double right turn option and a “free-flow” lane extension, “independent of the signal.” Although the dual turn lane plan would require design work and signal modification, Long indicated that neither option “gave a distinct advantage,” and both necessitate an interstate modification study.

Pelham city leaders had hoped to avoid such a study as it would add cost and extend the project timeline. However given the project’s proximity to Interstate 65, this is impossible.

“The major concern for us now is timing,” said Long.

In February, the Pelham City Council expressed a desire to have the project completed by August, however this deadline will now be impossible to meet.

“Everything indicates this will be a simple study,” said Long during the City Council work session. Even so he anticipated at least an “eight to nine month turn around.”

The Pelham City Council also heard a presentation from AECOM Business Developer/Project Manager Christy Cahalan regarding congestion-reducing modifications to a portion of Shelby County 52 between I-65 and ending west of US-31 around Clark Street.

These changes would include widening Shelby County 52, realignment after US-31 and a flyover. Cahalan estimated this project would cost more than $13 million.

“This is a waste of time,” said councilwoman Karyl Rice during the evening work session. “It has been going nowhere for a while.”

City leaders are still looking for alternative options, and according to Cahalan, AECOM is working on cost estimates for modifications between only I-65 and US-31, eliminating the need for a flyover.