Commission wants feedback about Coosa River Bridge
by Emily McLain
Jun 15, 2013 | 964 views |  0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TALLADEGA COUNTY – The County Commission has set two public meetings this week to gather feedback on the relocation of the proposed Coosa River Bridge in south Talladega County.

The first meeting will be June 20 at 6 p.m. at the Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce, and the second will be held June 22 at 2 p.m. at Fayetteville Baptist Church. District 5 Commissioner Greg Atkinson, District 4 Commissioner Jimmy Roberson and County Engineer Tim Markert will lead informal discussion about whether to pursue construction of a bridge connecting to Shelby County via McGowans Ferry Road in Childersburg.

“Any bridge is a benefit, but some are more of a benefit than others, and we just want some feedback and direction from citizens, because this is their money and this will be Talladega County’s bridge,” Atkinson said.

Residents are also strongly encouraged to express their thoughts about the bridge via an email to the following address: commission@talladegacountyal.org.

“The volume of emails would be the best benefit to us, because we could count the number of responses we had,” Atkinson said. “A lot of people may not be able to come to a meeting, but if could they send us a quick ‘yes’ or ‘no’ email, that would be huge.”

Until now, the commission had long discussed construction of a bridge connecting County Road 26 in Fayetteville with Shelby County Road 28 in Columbiana. However, the Shelby County Commission cannot agree with that location for numerous reasons, including poor road conditions and safety concerns created by increased traffic in that area, and instead suggested a bridge connecting to Shelby County Road 25 in Wilsonville by means of the Childersburg-Fayetteville Highway and McGowans Ferry Road.

Though the benefits for many residents are lessened by the location change, they are still evident. According to the commission, the bridge would decrease the current distance from U.S. 280 in Sylacauga to Interstate 65 and Highway 31 by three miles; from Sylacauga to Montevallo by four miles; from Fayetteville to I-65 and Highway 31 by 10 miles; and from Fayetteville to Montevallo by 10.5 miles.

“With Shelby County not wanting a bridge where we have talked about having one for so long, we don’t have much of an alternative if we want to have the bridge,” Atkinson said. “The new location really benefits Fayetteville and along the river and lake more then Sylacauga and Childersburg, although it will help connect with Childersburg’s Industrial Park. Basically, it’s a change, and before the commission does anything, we want to know where citizens stand.”

The project is estimated at roughly $20 million, with more than $4.8 million of county funds already earmarked toward that cost. The county may still be eligible for a state grant to assist construction, but Atkinson said there is much to be decided before they seek out funding.

“If we’re lucky and everybody wants to build it, we could probably get it started fairly soon,” he said. “But one, we have to make sure our citizens want to build it in a different location, and two, we have to get Shelby County on board and get an agreement worked out with them, then we can focus on gathering the funds. We don’t want to spend any money until we’ve got everybody in agreement.”

Atkinson admitted the relocation “is not a perfect situation,” but said he believes it would still benefit the entire county by encouraging commerce and traffic between the two counties.

Contact Emily Adams at eadams@dailyhome.com.