Decatur, Hartselle and Trinity awarded state road grants

Jan. 13—Decatur, Hartselle and Trinity were awarded a combined $3.24 million in state transportation grants Thursday for projects aimed at improving the safety of three major roads.

Decatur will receive $1.53 million for improvements to the Upper River Road-Alabama 67 intersection.

Hartselle is getting $480,619 for improvements to U.S. 31 South from Curry to Sparkman streets while Trinity was awarded $1.22 million for an upgrade of the Alabama 24 intersection with South Greenway Drive and West Morgan Road.

Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday announced more than $40 million in Alabama Transportation Improvement and Rehabilitation Program II funding to cities and counties for various road and bridge projects.

ATRIP-II is a program created by the Rebuild Alabama Act. The act requires that at least the first $30 million of new gas tax revenue be set aside annually by the Alabama Department of Transportation for projects of local interest on the state highway system.

State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, serves on the ATRIP II committee that makes the decisions on who should receive grants.

"I applaud the cities of Decatur, Hartselle and Trinity for putting in the applications," Orr said. "Decatur did the research to qualify its project on the safety issues. Hartselle needed the extra money to complete their project. Trinity needed the grant money to improve an unsafe intersection."

Decatur plans to realign the Alabama 67/Upper River Road intersection after several fatal wrecks.

"We're very thankful to receive the award," Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling said. "With the additional traffic counts, a traffic signal and straightening the intersection so it's more perpendicular will make it much safer."

Upper River Road is one of the growth areas of the city with two subdivisions under construction and an apartment complex in the plans, Orr said.

"The Hickory Hills area of the city is becoming congested and that makes this intersection more dangerous," Orr said.

Orr said the additional traffic light planned for the intersection will also slow down Alabama 67 traffic.

In 2020, Garver Engineering did a study of 14 intersections in Southeast Decatur and Priceville on behalf of the Decatur-area Metropolitan Planning Organization. The study found that traffic turning right off Upper River Road onto Alabama 67 is a major concern, particularly during morning rush hour traffic.

Left turns are also a safety issue because Upper River joins the highway at an acute angle instead of the preferred right angle that the realignment would create.

The City Council approved in December 2021 engineering and design of the improved intersection for $126,810. The ATRIP II grant requires a $446,810 city match. The overall budget for the project is roughly $2.4 million.

At Tuesday's 10 a.m. meeting, the council will consider City Engineer Carl Prewitt's proposal to budget $450,000 to the purchase of one right of way for the project. The Morgan County Revenue Commissioner's Office website shows the property is owned by Norman and Mary Davenport.

"The engineering design is done for the most part," Prewitt said. "Once the right of way is acquired, we will review the plans, make any needed modifications and it should be ready to go."

Prewitt said the state will handle the bidding process and manage the project.

The city is also planning to add a roundabout at the Upper River Road intersection with Old River Road/Indian Hills Road. Prewitt said he hasn't set a budget to present to the City Council for that project. — Hartselle project

Hartselle Mayor Randy Garrison said the latest ATRIP II funding will offset a price overrun on the plan to make access lane improvements on U.S. 31, from Curry to Sparkman streets. The project includes modifications to the median to add left-turn and deceleration lanes.

"The bid came in $700,000 over the award we received last year and I found out that we could apply for the balance this year," Garrison said. "This portion of the project is expected to cost $2 million."

The additional grant money drops Hartselle's portion of the project to $200,532.

Hartselle is planning a second phase that includes straightening Sparkman Street as it approaches U.S. 31 and adding a traffic light at the Sparkman-U.S. 31 intersection. — Trinity intersection

The intersection of Alabama 24 and South Greenway Drive/West Morgan Road, the site of several fatal wrecks over the years, has long been a safety concern. Mayor Vaughn Goodwin said it's especially a concern because West Morgan High School and its teenage drivers are on South Greenway Drive.

A large subdivision, Braxton Ridge, is on West Morgan Road. This road is also a popular cut-through for some Decatur residents seeking to avoid Beltline Road, Goodwin said.

The ATRIP II grant requires a $300,000 match from the town of Trinity. or 256-340-2432. Twitter @DD_BayneHughes.