DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) – The Alabama Department of Transportation sponsored two public meetings in Decatur Thursday to hear input regarding plans to build a toll road and bridge over the Tennessee River.
A lot of people don’t want to pay to cross the river, especially those who live in Morgan or Lawrence Counties and commute to Madison County to work each day. There are others who recognize the growing need for another river crossing, but they’re not happy with where the state wants to put this bridge.
An artist’s rendering shows how the new bridge might look. No word yet on when construction might begin, because we don’t know who is going to pay for it.
“Well, we’re just looking for people’s thoughts and ideas. We work for the public and we always want to know what the public thinks, even if it’s built with private funds,” says ALDOT’s James Brown.
Opinions were not in short supply at the meetings. The mayor and council members who looked at it say they like the idea, but they have some concerns about the plan.
“One of them is we’ve had thousands of people commuting to and from jobs in Huntsville for many years and we’re not seeing straight free-lanes off of Highway 31 for those commuters who want to come this way and pick-up 565 going to and from work,” Decatur Mayor Don Kyle told WHNT News 19. The current plan, as drawn, would route that traffic on access roads along the new highway, which would mean a longer commute each way.
Dorothy Gordon looked at it, and she doesn’t like it. She says traffic coming into Decatur on the new bridge would be dumped into a historically black neighborhood.
“It’s just two traffic lights on Highway 20. It takes you a good 30 minutes to get out to get on 20 to go where you going, and if you’re not careful, you’ll get hit, ran over, knocked over and whoever hit you going on, you don’t know who hit you, you know,” Gordon said.
Several other ideas have been mentioned at Thursday’s meetings, including moving the toll road further north to tie in at the Browns Ferry Road exit on I-65. Another proposal would include building a new bridge parallel to the existing bridges.