ALDOT discusses updates for intersection

Published 3:31 pm Wednesday, June 8, 2016

By Shayla Terry

The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) has prepared four possible concepts for the betterment of the 90 degree turn at the Highway 331 and Highway 29 intersect.

In a recent meeting in downtown Luverne, ALDOT region engineer George Conner demonstrated to city officials the configurations of how each concept could relieve the congestion of traffic at that intersection.

The improvements of the intersection come as a result of two things: a missed opportunity of economic development and a committee meeting with Gov. Robert Bentley and various government officials.

Hwashin America Corporation, a Hyundai tier supplier, was considering opening a plant in Luverne. Days before announcing the new location to be in Luverne, Hwashin changed directions and built in Greenville, Ala. instead.

“Hwashin said they did not believe they could reliably and consistently deliver their materials to the Hyundai plant because of that congestion and the penalties they would incur at Hyundai for delaying production,” Conner said.

Due to this missed opportunity, a committee of people from Crenshaw and Covington County requested a meeting with Bentley to remedy the intersection.

“They presented the need for four laning Highway 331,” Conner said.

After taking a closer look at the traffic congestion issue, ALDOT confirmed that congestion is a problem seasonally, and during certain times of the week during that season.

“It’s much worse when there is a lot of beach traffic,” Conner said.

“It’s much worse on certain parts of the week when that traffic is either going to or coming from. It’s not light at other times, but that is the most problematic time”

Conner introduced four concepts for solving the congestion. A lower cost bypass or pairs option, and a higher cost bypass or pairs option. The lower cost option was said to cost between three and eight million dollars. The higher cost options were said to cost anywhere from 10 to 20 million dollars.

“The money we have is not equal to the need that we have,” Conner said.

“For that reason, we are advancing the four laning of 331 at a very slow pace.”

Conner said to attendees that the lower cost options are more likely to receive the funding necessary to complete the project.

“I personally think that the proposal with the traffic going further around the city in the form of a two way or bypass alternative will be the most advantageous to us,” said Luverne Mayor Dr. Pat Walker.

“Although it is more expensive, the cost will way heavy on their decision.”

Both relief options come with the possibility of losing infrastructures of downtown businesses.

“None of the concepts are perfect,” said Robyn Snellgrove, president and CEO of the Crenshaw County Economic and Industrial Development Authority.

“We just have to look and see which ones are not detrimental to our downtown area and our citizens.”

Due to the fact that the state of Alabama does not have the funds readily available for the project, Conner says the start of production is still seven to 10 years off.

A public hearing will be held at a later time to disclose to citizens the options and concept the city will go forward with.