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Grant funds to pay for removal of highway trees

A $390,400 Transportation Enhance-ment Grant will provide funding for the removal of Bradford Pear trees from the Highway 31 median in Hartselle, according to Mayor Dwight Tankersley.
“We’ve known for a long time that the trees don’t comply with federal highway safety standards and were going to have to come down sooner or later,” Tankersley said.”
That will be accomplished by including their removal as part of a new landscape design for the median.  At the same time we will be getting a re-designed landscape that will be both safe and eye appealing. “
Of the total grant, $262,400 is set aside for the enhancement of Highway 31 while the remainder is earmarked for the enhancement of I-65 interchanges at Highway 31 and Thompson Road.  The local match requirement is 20 percent or $78,080.
The changeover won’t happen soon, however.  Tankersley said plans for the project would have to be made and approved by the Alabama Department of Transportation before a contract is let and work begins.
He estimated that phase of the project could take 18 to 24 months.
The mayor said part of the grant money would be used to draw attention to both of Hartselle’s I-65 interchanges and help promote economic development initiatives.    Part of an 18-acre tract of city-owned property at I-65 and Hwy 36 will soon become the location of a new Cracker Barrel Restaurant   and development of a new Morgan Business Park is under way at I-65 and Thompson Road.
The Cracker Barrel site will also be the focus of additional city-financed landscape and tree removal work.
Permit requests have already been made to ALDOT for removal of trees and unwanted vegetation from highway rights-of-way.