City to finalize contract for study of road
by David Atchison
PELL CITY – The city will finalize a contract this week with a company to complete a study to help improve access to the new hospital and veterans’ home.

City Manager Patrick Draper said the city will hire Municipal Consultants, which the city already contracts out for engineering services, to oversee and complete the study.

“The study will provide options to improve the accessibility to facilities there, Jeff State, the hospital and V.A. home,” Draper said.

He said the city is hoping to tap into grant money through the Alabama Department of Transportation to pay for the project.

“Because of time constraints, we have to move forward quickly with this project,” Draper said.

He said the deadline for applying for the grant is either May or June.

“When you are talking about a project of this magnitude, it takes a long time to complete,” Draper said.

He said the city hopes to have the contract in place this week so the study can move forward immediately.

“The study will take 2-3 months to complete,” Draper said. “We’re tying to set up an appointment with the state DOT to identify the funding source.”

He said the city hopes to tap into matching grant money through the Transportation Rehabilitation Improvement Program.

Draper said the grant would pay for a substantial amount of the project cost, with the city providing 20 percent of the match of the total project cost.

Last month, the council authorized Draper to move forward with the study, and authorized him to spend up to $110,000 for the study.

He said better access to the property north of Interstate 20 is vital for future economic development.

Draper said it’s only a mater of when more development appears in the area north of I-20, between U.S. 231 and Wolf Creek Road North.

“There is land over there ready for development,” he said.

Draper said a new, improved access road will enhance the marketability of the property owned by the St. Clair County Economic Development Council.

He told the council that the St. Clair County Commission would help support the construction of a new access road.

Draper estimates a new access road could cost up to $1.8 million.

“If we are successful with getting the grant, it will provide the majority of the funding,” Draper said.

He said whether the city receives the grant or not, a study must be completed before a new access road is completed.

“The study is going to be needed whether the road is built now or five years from now,” Draper said.

He said in a separate but related issue, the city has formally requested that ALDOT complete a traffic study so a new left-hand turn signal can be installed at the intersection of U.S. 231 and Hazelwood Drive.

The city and county jointly built the current road, Veterans Parkway, which provides access to Jefferson State Community College, St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital, and Colonel Robert L. Howard State Veterans Home.

Contact David Atchison at

© 2013