Community still divided about planned Jeff Road widening project

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - Madison County and the Alabama Department of Transportation are planning to add lanes to Jeff Road from Capshaw Road to Kelly Spring Road.

"The plan is to widen to five lanes, with curb and gutter and sidewalks on each side," said Scott Leach, a senior project manager at Garver which is the consulting engineer firm doing the quarter study.

"We are going through the environmental study now," he said.

Thursday, he attended a public meeting to solicit citizen comments about the widening that will be evaluated, addressed in a report, and then could make it into the final design.

Dale Strong, Madison County Commission Chairman, said the project is needed as soon as possible.

"It's going to take care of some traffic that has accumulated over years and give people a lot safer travel to and from work and in the community," said Strong. "This has been way past overdue. The big thing is, in unincorporated Madison County, you have got to be able to pay for it."

The widening will be done in phases, to accommodate that funding.

Some say they are happy to see the widening on track.

"The traffic is awful!" said resident Larry Worley. "Sometimes, I have to wait ten minutes to get into my driveway."

He added, "I would like to see this kind of thing take place, the sooner the better."

Madison County and ALDOT will need to acquire land from owners along Jeff Road to widen the road. Worley isn't concerned.

"It will be tearing up my yard a little bit, but that's what goes with construction," he said. "I'm willing to endure for progress and for betterment of the community."

Not everyone had that same idea. Louis Ossip does not think Jeff Road needs to have all five of the planned lanes.

"It is going to bring a lot of eighteen-wheeler and truck traffic past three schools," he noted, citing a safety concern.

But he said he can not disagree that someĀ improvements are needed.

"I would be willing to give up some of my land for widening to three lanes, with shoulders. Because we have unsafe shoulders in the area. But, a compromise! It appears they are not willing to compromise," he said.

Engineers say after much research, they believe five lanes is the best option.

"We have done extensive traffic studies, and collected traffic volumes," said Leach. "The amount of traffic that is on Jeff Road today justifies a five-lane facility."

Leach said homeowners can expect to hear from appraisal teams next year, to work on getting them a fair rate for the land that's needed to complete the road.

"We hope to begin making contact with the property owners in 2018," he said.

He told WHNT News 19 the rest of the estimated timeline is as follows:

  • 2018 - Right of Way Acquisition
  • 2021- Utility Relocation
  • 2022 - Construction

Construction is anticipated to take two and a half years to complete. The project will cost $20 million.