GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. — Repairs to a road that has been closed for more than three years are ready to move forward, according to county leaders.
Drivers on Aldridge Gap Road are met with a bright orange and white barricade. It’s been that way since Christmas 2015, when North Alabama was drenched in a heavy – and damaging – downpour.
The rain washed out roads across Marshall County and created more than one million dollars worth of damage. Most of those roads have been fixed. Feemster Gap Road is partially completed and in the works. Aldridge Gap Road is still damaged.
Things are about to start moving on that front, though.
Ann Conley has lived on a road matching her surname off of Aldridge Gap Road for more than 60 years. “Well, when we need ambulances and everything they’ve got to go the long way. They can’t come down the mountain and just be here in a few minutes from the hospital,” she explained, “Last week, we had some trees down and couldn’t get out. No way in, no way out.”
She’s not the only person who’s ready to see the barricade gone from the road.
“We got the approval to go forward,” said District 1 Commissioner Ronny Shumate. That’s a recent development in a very long process.
“Everybody wants to know why it’s taken so long,” Shumate said, “The federal government got involved, FEMA. When you get the federal government involved you can’t just do something overnight.”
The county got FEMA funding because of all of the damage. County officials got the necessary paperwork in, but that was just a drop in the road-to-completion bucket. “We ended up finding some Indian artifacts,” Shumate explained, “They did a survey to see if there was an Indian burial ground, which shuts you down. Then they found a specific breed of bat living in the area and they did a survey to find if it wouldn’t be an environmental issue with that.”
Shumate added they had to change the route of the road and acquire more land. The Marshall County Commission will approve to release the bids at its meeting this week. Those have to be out for two weeks. “I’m looking at hopefully construction starting in March or April,” Shumate said.
That date depends on the weather and the company’s availability. For folks like Conley, that’s news they hope becomes a reality. “I’m very pleased. You know, I want something done,” Conley said.
Barring weather delays county leaders expect work to take ten months to a year.