And there was light
By Randy Garrison
For the Enquirer
If you have driven through Main Street East out to the interstate, you might have noticed a big change out there.
Two years ago, the City of Hartselle made an agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation to replace outdated, broken and damaged lighting at Exit 328. The City approached ALDOT during a meeting with ALDOT director John Cooper about replacing and upgrading the lighting at Exit 328, and the response was ALDOT does not fund lighting on interstate exits.
However, by the end of the meeting, Cooper asked if the City of Hartselle would be willing to split the cost of the lighting upgrade with ALDOT. Since this was an expensive and costly project, we felt any help with this upgrade would be in the city’s best interest. He offered a 50/50 split on the costs of the upgrades and new lighting, with the City’s cost not to exceed $250,000.
With City Council approval, the City of Hartselle signed an agreement with ALDOT to split the lighting improvement, with the City paying half the cost up to $250,000. A few months later, the City of Hartselle paid the City’s share of the project.
As with all government projects, this would go through a necessary process of approving up several levels and, of course, bidding the project. The project was bid earlier this year and was awarded. I am sure COVID delayed the process, as with so many others that have been slower to be completed.
During the time of East Main Street paving, railroad crossing upgrades and other road projects, the new lighting project was underway.
The old lighting fixtures were removed while still using the existing poles. New LED light fixtures were installed, along with additional lighting added on all four ramps, north and southbound.
The difference is very noticeable. Very few of the older lights were still working, and with the age of the fixtures, new bulbs were not an option. Also, the lights were older technology from the early ’80s, and the fixtures did not lock into place any longer.
After driving through the area last week and stopping on the shoulder of one of the off ramps, I would really think one could read on the ramps in the middle of the night if necessary; it truly is that well–lit.
The new lighting will serve several purposes. First and foremost, the lights will provide safety for those who travel this route after daylight hours. Safely entering and leaving the interstate or Highway 36 will be much easier and safer with the improved lighting. Personal safety should also improve; those looking to commit crimes should take a second look at such a well-lit exit and decide it best to move along and seek a darker area for their criminal intentions.
Another important role the new lighting will play is, hopefully, increased traffic and customers for the businesses located near the Interstate 65 exit. When traveling, most folks will decide to pull off at a well-lit exit versus one that is dark and uninviting. This choice will increase revenues for those businesses located close by – and even downtown, from those who choose to venture further from the exit.
With increased sales, the city benefits from increased sales tax, which funds better city services for all who call Hartselle home.
This is just another project the City of Hartselle has undertaken to improve the lives of its citizens. This continues to move our city forward and make life even better for all in our hometown.