ATHENS, Ala. - One of the busiest roads in Athens is getting some changes this year. City leaders approved some traffic changes to make room for more development along US-31.
“I don't know how many times in the past three years I've heard 'when are y'all going to do something with that old K-Mart building'?” Athens city councilman Harold Wales said.
Last month, property developers announced a plan to take over the vacant spot along US-31 and build a new Publix grocery store. On Tuesday evening, Athens city leaders said 'yes' to a plan to put in a new traffic light between the middle school and the future shopping center.
“We've agreed to put turning lanes in. We've agreed to put in a new street from the north into it coming south,” Wales said.
The developer is responsible for tearing down the old store and building on site. City leaders expect that work could begin this spring.
“It's not just a Publix, they're also going to put in some craft shops along with that,” Wales said.
Along with replacing the traffic light at the middle school, Athens city leaders say they're also planning to put in a roundabout along Pryor Street along US-31. They're also putting in some new sidewalks. City leaders expect that work to start within the next two months.
“The roundabout will just move traffic a lot faster,” Wales said. “More and more traffic is going to be coming there, now with the Publix, the shops, the school.”
City leaders plan to extend a sidewalk along US-31 from Hobbs to Elm Street.
Athens city leaders held off on approving the plan for new sidewalks along US-31. They also approved a tax abatement for the Toyota Boshoku plant currently being built south of town.