Madison County searches for funding to widen Blake Bottom Road

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - The Madison County Commission is looking to widen Blake Bottom Road from Research Park to Jeff Road. County officials say they can't afford to do the $11 million project on their own, so they've applied for a grant from the federal government.

Blake Bottom road is a major east-west artery that leads people to Research Park, the Marshall Space Flight Center and Redstone Arsenal.

“With 12 or 14 thousand cars a day going down that road it’s one of our main east-west thoroughfares for the people to get from the middle of our community over to one of the main highways, Research Park," says Commissioner Phil Vandiver.

If you drive Blake Bottom Road regularly, you know the amount of traffic has outpaced the size of the road.

"Everybody realizes with the amount of traffic we have out there now that there needs to be something done," says Vandiver.

The county is working on a 7.8 million dollar overpass at Research Park and Blake Bottom.  Widening the major thoroughfare is the next step.

But the hold up is money.

"It's a lot easier to come up with a 20 percent match than it is to come up with an 11 million dollar appropriation. Madison County just doesn't have that type of money," said Commission Chairman Dale Strong.

Madison County has applied for a federal grant to fund the $11 million proposed project that would include $9 million from the federal government and $2 million from the county.

Vandiver says when using federal money for road projects, they require widening to 5 lanes and a bike lane and sidewalk. He knows that could pose issues for residents.

"Everybody realizes with the amount of traffic we have out there now that there needs to be something done. The unfortunate part is when you start talking about doing bicycle pass and sidewalks on both sides of the road you start adding 10 to 15 feet of right away. 10 or 15 feet in a yard where somebodies not happy about it really makes a difference. There’s not a win-win situation," says Vandiver.

Alfonzo Jones has lived on Blake Bottom road for 23 years. He says while the road does need to be widened because of heavy traffic, he also has concerns.

"I'm thinking if they try to turn this into five lanes and a bike lane then that's going to put that way over there where the fruit trees are and that's going to take up about half of my yard," says Alfonzo Jones.

If the commission says doesn't get the grant, they will have to put the project on hold and start looking for funding in other places.

"Unfortunately for Madison County we don't have the money to do this by ourselves," says Vandiver.

Commissioners say there is over $300 million worth of projects currently under construction in Madison County, but officials say they plan to continue pressing forward to improve the counties infrastructure.

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