DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — The City of Decatur is working with the Decatur Area Metropolitan Planning Organization to do a Tennessee River Bridge Feasibility Study. On Monday, the city council approved an extension for the study.

The “Steamboat Bill” Memorial Bridge, which directs southbound traffic from U.S. 72, U.S. Highway 31 and State Route 20, into Decatur onto Sixth Avenue, has been around since the 1960s.

According to the Decatur Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), the aging two-lane bridge is contributing to traffic congestion. So, the MPO and the city have teamed up with TTL, Inc. to conduct a feasibility study.

“The bridge is over capacity so it’s time, actually it’s past time to be looking at a new way to alleviate some of the congestion,” said Dewayne Hellums, the Director of Transportation for the Decatur Area MPO. “It’s a truss bridge, you cannot widen it, so the two lanes is what you have.”

When News 19 spoke with officials working closely with the project back in May, they said the feasibility study should be completed by October of 2023. With the 90-day extension approved by the city council on Monday, they have until December 30 to complete the study.

The city has already held one public meeting for input and now they have another scheduled for August 31. The involvement meeting will allow the public to provide more input and feedback regarding the Feasibility Study.

“The Public Involvement Meeting will be an informal gathering, generally with no formal presentation, that allows an exchange of information with the public. The City of Decatur, along with the project team, will be available to answer questions,” the meeting notice says.

The feasibility study is being paid for by a $1 Million dollar grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and that is being matched by the City of Decatur. The area included in the study is 136 square miles.

The area included in the study is inside the circle on this map.

It will look at all possible options for transit into the city. That includes repairing or replacing the existing bridge in the same location, or building a new bridge in an entirely new location.

“It doesn’t have to be a replacement of the current, it could be downstream, we’re looking at everything,” Hellums said.

The first meeting done for the study had a lot of people show up, according to officials.

“We had a really good showing, we had a lot of comments back,” Hellums said. “We want to hear from everybody, we want to hear what their travel habits are how they think the bridges need to be improved, and now’s a good time to make those public comments.”

Once the study is complete, several years of processing, acquisitions, and engineering are expected before any construction would begin.

The comment period will be open until September 1, 2023. You can send your comments on the project via email or mail. You can send an email to: decaturbridge.comments@ttlusa.com.

If you prefer to send your comments by mail, here is where you can send it:

TTL, Inc.
Decatur Bridge Comments
3516 Greensboro Avenue
Tuscaloosa, AL 35401

For more information about the project, you can visit the City of Decatur’s website.