DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — The City of Decatur could soon see big changes to one of the main arteries into the city.

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.

“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,” Hellums said.

The City of Decatur is working with the Decatur Area Metropolitan Planning Organization to do a Tennessee River Bridge Feasibility Study.

The feasibility study 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 area included in the study is 136 square miles.

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

The City of Decatur held a public comment meeting on Tuesday of this week.

Hellums said a lot of people showed up.

“We had a really good showing, we had a lot of comments back,” he said.

If you missed the meeting, there is plenty of time to weigh in on what you would like to see.

“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,” Hellums added.

The public comment period runs through June 1st.

You can send your comments on the project via email or mail. You can send an email to:

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

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

For more information on the project, click here.

The feasibility study should be completed by October of 2023. Several years of processing, acquisitions, and engineering are expected before any construction would begin.

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.