Engineers planning to widen congested Sullivan Street in Madison

MADISON, Ala. - People in Madison know it's a slow trip as they head north and south on Sullivan Street. The city plans to widen the road, and neighbors say, not a moment too soon.

Mary Ann Caissie knows what a headache it is to drive on Sullivan Street. She said the traffic is so bad, "it's hard to get out on the road. There are accidents there almost every other week."

Where the sidewalk and the right lanes end at Spenryn Drive, cars merge into a bumper to bumper crawl. "If I shop at Publix, it takes me 15-20 minutes on that road to get home," Caissie said.

"It's like you're trying to fit a size 10 foot in a size 8 shoe. You need to get the shoe bigger," Andy Somers with Croy Engineering said.

Wanting to get off on the right foot, engineers met with neighbors to talk about a new proposal to widen Sullivan, creating four lanes, a center turning lane and sidewalks from Spenryn Drive to Kyser Boulevard.

"It's a needed development, it's overdue," Somers said.

Project engineers say the challenge isn't just figuring out how far in they'll have to creep into some neighbors driveways, it's also the drainage. If they pave over the drainage ditch, they'll have to figure out a place for the excess stormwater to go.

"We've got to fit a whole lot of things into that 100 feet of right of way." Somers has two draft proposals, including 11 or 14-foot lanes, sidewalks, and bike lanes.

"Reducing commute traffic, a safer way in, it'll be safer for school traffic," Somers said.

"I'm hoping. I'm hoping," Caissie said.

Somers says it'll take a few more months on the drawing table to finish designing the half-mile stretch. So far, he says it's unclear how much the project would cost.

The engineering firm plans to present plans to the Madison council in February. Somers expects the work will take about a year and a half to finish.