Fighting for You: Madison County Commissioners Explain Why Lights Along Overpass Aren’t Turned On

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - WHNT NEWS 19 told Madison County's Chief Engineer this week lights along the new Research Park Boulevard overpass were not turned on. He was surprised. We figured out what kept drivers in the dark. WHNT NEWS 19 called two Madison County Commissioners.

The overpass stretches across a large area. It goes from the city of Huntsville into Madison County's fourth and sixth districts. A spokeswoman with the Alabama Department of Transportation told WHNT NEWS 29 a paperwork hold-up between them and the county is behind the delay. WHNT NEWS 19 asked the county commissioners to explain.

A quick glance at the overpass may not reveal much, but a longer stare might.

"I was not aware they were driving in the dark until you notified us," said Chief Engineer Richard Grace.

Grace was in the dark with drivers. Our neighbors behind the wheel were also wondering why.

"That is certainly some concern," said District 6 Commissioner Bob Harrison.

Some of the light fixtures for the overpass stand in Harrison's district.

"I`ve come through there even before we completed the overpass and it is extremely dark," added Harrison.

Some of the light poles are also up in Commissioner Phil Vandiver's fourth district. ALDOT told WHNT NEWS 19 an unsigned agreement with Madison County is keeping the lights off. The agreement locks in a payment plan for the light's maintenance and utility bill. The commissioners talked about the agreement a couple of weeks ago, planned to vote on it, but put off the vote until a later date.

"The main concern was where the money was coming from. Whether it was coming out of individual districts or out of the general fund," said Vandiver.

"It was a surprise to us from the state that it was going to be something we were going to have to pay for on a state right-of-way," added Harrison.

The commissioners will pay for the lights from the county's general fund.

"So, that's not a problem at all for anyone. We are more than glad to get that signed and get the lights on as quick as we can," added Vandiver.

Commissioners Harrison and Vandiver expect the entire commission to vote on the agreement at their next meeting. The next meeting is scheduled January 7, 2013. WHNT NEWS 19 will be at the meeting.