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District 2 Commissioner Randy Vest,

Morgan commissioners plan to focus on traffic

By Erica Smith

For the Enquirer

Morgan County commissioners say a top priority this year involves improving roads in areas of high growth to alleviate traffic congestion.

District 1 Commissioner Jeff Clark, whose district spans the northwestern and north-central portion of the county, said he wants to focus on traffic at Priceville High School due to a planned large subdivision.


District 1 Commissioner Jeff Clark


“There’s 700 new homes that have been planned that they’ve approved behind (Priceville) High School, and there’s only one way in and one way out, which is North Bethel (Road),” Clark said. “The school board recently approved a new (junior high) school to be built right there, too, so they’ve all got to come out of one intersection.”

Commissioners and Chairman Ray Long discussed their goals following the State of Morgan County forum Wednesday morning that highlighted achievements over the past year.

Clark said Priceville will conduct a traffic study to determine what improvements are needed to North Bethel Road, and the commission will assist the city with the work.

Ray Long, Morgan County Commission chairman

Morgan County Schools has gone to the bond market to prepare for building a new Priceville Junior High School adjacent to Priceville High. Priceville’s Town Council rezoned 352 acres in May to make room for Breland Companies’ proposed 774-home subdivision north of East Upper River Road and east of North Bethel Road.

Clark said he is also concerned with the traffic on East Upper River Road due to growth in Decatur. He said he is working with Decatur to help alleviate some of the traffic congestion in that area.

“I haven’t seen the plans yet, but I know Decatur’s going to do a roundabout” at the Upper River Road intersection with Old River Road/Indian Hills Road.

“We’re going to work with them on widening out Old River Road,” Clark said.

District 2 Commissioner Randy Vest, whose district covers the eastern central and central portions of the county, said Hartselle is in his district and he works with the city often because their roads connect. Vest said there is a lot of congestion on Alabama 36 due to subdivision developments in Hartselle.

District 2 Commissioner Randy Vest,

“The Cain Park subdivision, I think the first phase is 500 houses with the second phase 250,” Vest said. “So, when those people start occupying those houses then the congestion from that traffic just on (Alabama) 36, there at (Interstate 65), Exit 328, is going to be huge. It’s already very serious; we’re going to have to deal with that.”

Vest said the county is working with the Alabama Department of Transportation on improvements to Alabama 36.

“We already have in the process to add turn lanes there at (Alabama) 36 going into (Lando Cain Road) there at the Cracker Barrel,” he said. “But we also need to have another traffic light in that location to help deal with that congestion.”

District 4 Commissioner Greg Abercrombie, whose district spans the east side of the county, said he is looking into working with ALDOT to repair an intersection in Cotaco at Union Hill Road, Alabama 36 and Cotaco-Florette Road. Abercrombie said he does not know at this time what the intersection changes will be.

District 4 Commissioner Greg Abercrombie

“That’s going to be between our county engineer and the state if he can redesign possibly what the intersection with the flow of traffic around the school of Cotaco Junior High School,” he said. “We’re not too far into that project, so as large as this project’s going to be, this may take several years to get this done.”

The project is a long-term goal, Abercrombie said, and may be four to five years out.

Abercrombie said they are also trying to secure funding for a new gymnasium in Cotaco on 24 acres at the corner of Union Hill Road and Luker Road.

“Right now, we’re just looking at a gymnasium but you never know what might happen,” he said. “The way the economy is today, as much as things cost, this is something that we may have to kind of pace yourself on because of cost.”

Ray Long, Morgan County Commission chairman, said one of the items on his list of concerns is the condition of the Morgan County Courthouse.

“The renovation (need) at the courthouse is major and the heating and cooling have been there since 1973,” he said. “Hoping before the year’s out we’ll have that replaced.”

Long said they are building new baseball fields and concession stands at two different parks. One is at Morgan County North Park in Priceville, and the other is at Morgan County West Park in Neel. There is also a gymnasium about 75% completed at West Park.

District 3 Commissioner Don Stisher was unable to attend the State of Morgan County forum. His district spans the majority of the southern portion of the county. The forum was coordinated by the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce and held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Decatur Riverfront.

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