Cahaba ‘loop’ would alleviate traffic problem

Published 6:49 pm Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Greenville Planning Commission approved the subdivision of land on Highway 185 for possible construction of a new hotel, but development of the property could require the completion of a multi-million dollar road project that both the city and state have an interest in.

Entrepreneurs Arvind, Dinesh and Ramesh Patel are interested in building a hotel on property south of the Comfort Inn, said developer and current landowner Robert Bishop. The Patels own and operate the Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inn, and Best Western.

The commission stipulated that any new development would require a 25-foot extension of the current road running between Comfort Inn and Taco Bell and the owners bring it up to city standards. Or, the owners can wait until the city and state complete the road, looping it behind the Best Western to connect with Cahaba Road.

Plans have long been in place to do just that, said Mayor Dexter McLendon, but the problem has been finding the money to complete what he estimates to be a $2 million project, a bill that the city and state will likely share responsibility for. Officials want to move the traffic lights at the current intersection to a newly created intersection at Taco Bell/Comfort Inn and BancorpSouth, because shoppers turning onto Cahaba Road or Interstate Drive create a “bottleneck” situation at the I-65 exit.

“We know that as Greenville grows and as Exit 130 grows, this will become more and more of a problem,” said McLendon.

McLendon said there is still discussion on what would happen to the turn onto Cahaba Road, but it could become an “exit only,” with traffic flowing behind the Best Western into the shopping area around Wal-Mart, but being allowed to exit between the Texaco and QV convenience stores.

McLendon said the project has been delayed for two years because of the economy.

“We’re just now getting to where people are interested in developing that area again,” said McLendon. “This road will only help spur that.”

The city also had to hire its own consultant and plans had to be engineered to meet the state’s conditions.

“We’re very hopeful that by October or November it will be a approved,” said McLendon.

Dr. Robert Martin, who owns land by the Best Western, gave a letter to commission members prior to Monday’s meeting objecting to the subdivision. Martin said while he wanted to see the property developed, he had concerns about the property being sold “piece-meal” without a road plan in place.

Martin said he’s been waiting on the road for approximately “six or seven years.” He said he originally planned to move his dentist office from Interstate Dr. to Cahaba Rd., but was unsure if he would do so now, even with the completion of a road.

“That was the original plan…back when I was younger,” he joked. “I think everyone at the meeting had valid points. This has just been going on a long time.”