Alabaster OKs next step on 119 widening

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – The Alabaster City Council approved the next step in a project to eventually widen Alabama 119 to five lanes south of its intersection with Fulton Springs Road during an April 10 meeting.

Council members voted unanimously during the meeting to approve a $325,076 engineering fee for the Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood engineering firm to begin designing the widening project. The state will reimburse the city for 80 percent of the engineering fee.

The vote came a few days after project engineer Keith Strickland gave council members an update on the project during a work session. Strickland said approving the engineering fee will allow the firm to formally begin designing the project.

In 2014, the council approved a contract with the engineering firm to conduct a topographic survey and corridor study for a project to widen Alabama 119 from its intersection with Fulton Springs Road to just south of Veterans Park. Plans call for the road to be widened to five lanes – Two travel lanes in each direction and a center turn lane – along the nearly two-mile stretch.

Once the design work reaches 60 percent completion, the city will be able to start negotiating with property owners along the route to acquire right-of-way for the project, Strickland said.

Strickland said the firm likely will hit the 60-percent design mark in about a year.

“Once we get to that point, then we can start acquiring right-of-way,” Strickland said, noting the engineering fee does not include funding for right-of-way acquisition. “That (right-of-way acquisition) will be the bulk of the work in moving this project forward.”

Strickland said there are “at least” 30 or 40 property owners along the widening route, each of which must donate or sell property to the city before the widening can begin construction. He said the project’s total timeline depends heavily on how long right-of-way negotiations take.

In 2012, the state approved about $10 million in funding to widen the section of Alabama 119 through its Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program. Initial plans call for a 10-foot-wide multi-use path along one side of the road.

“Any time you use federal dollars, it’s going to take time. There’s no way around it,” Strickland told council members.