Officials hope growth comes in Georgiana with new road

Published 8:10 pm Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A connecting bypass just south of Georgiana is still a few years away from public access, but Mayor Mike Middleton said the infrastructure is in place now for new development alongside the future 4.66-mile, four-lane highway.

The road – a $6.9 million state project – will connect Highways 106 and 55.

“We’ve already got sewage and water to most of that area,” said Middleton, noting the state paid approximately $600,000 to relocate pipes and provide water and sewage access to the new road. “I feel it’s going to be beneficial once we’re able to get some businesses out there.

Middleton said he thought the development would have minimal negative impact on the city’s existing service stations along Highway 106.

“I’d estimate that maybe 15 percent of their business is through traffic,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to hurt us that much.”

Council member Clementine Pugh agreed with Middleton.

“We need some new businesses in Georgiana,” Pugh said, noting the scheduled development could serve as a tool to help “entice them.”

Travelers will be able to exit at Georgiana off I-65, connect to Highway 55 from Highway 106 and come out at the Red Caboose BBQ and CH Food Mart north of McKenzie near the existing four-lane.

Middleton estimated the road, when finished, would be approximately 300 yards from downtown Georgiana and city hall.

“I look forward to it helping us,” said Middleton. “The plus is we already have the infrastructure in place for businesses. It’s sitting out there waiting for them.”

Jesse McWilliams, Butler County Commission Chairman and president of the county’s economic development board, said the present state of the economy is hurting growth in rural areas.

When complete, though, McWilliams hoped the road would help lure more economic development to Georgiana.

“It’s been in the works for a good while and it’s a very important project,” said McWilliams. “Anytime you have better roads, you’re going to attract industry because it’s certainly a great selling point.”

Tony Harris, Alabama Department of Transportation spokesperson, said the project represents the department’s commitment to close existing traffic gaps along state roads. He said the state bid the project out for completion in 300 working days, or two calendar years.

“Of course if the work is started and situations are discovered other than what preliminary engineering indicated, it could take longer,” he said.