Highway project – draws interest from area residents

Published 4:32 pm Monday, March 8, 2004

By By Chuck Bodiford Publisher
Tuesday, Unity Baptist Church located on Hwy 31, hosted the Public Involvement Meeting for four-laning US-31 from east of Atmore to US-29 in Flomaton. More than 100 people from Atmore, Flomaton and all points in between attended the meeting to see if and how the project would affect them.
Officials from the Alabama Department of Transportation where there to explain to the residents how the four laning would occur and answer questions residents might have, concerning things such as schedules, design and right-of-way. After entering the fellowship hall of the church were two rows of tables that held large project layouts that displayed an aerial shot of the proposed four-laning project and also possible alternate routes. On the back of a comment sheet residents could answer a couple of questions such as which alternate they preferred and list any additional comments they had on the subject.
The room was filled with discussion from people that provided their support to the project and some who weren't sure of their position. Charles Godwin, a local attorney, has his office located on Hwy 31 and attended the public meeting. "I am pleased with the prospect of four-laning Hwy 31. I think it is good news and will help with traffic flow. Both the morning and afternoon, I feel has heavy traffic flow with the other parts of the day having a good flow," Godwin said.
David Johnson of Flomaton has concerns about the project and its impact not only to his home, but to the high school located on Hwy 31. "At this time I am undecided, and do not think this is acceptable. I feel that there are safety issues that have not been addressed, at least in my part or curve," said Johnson. "It's the only thing that separates the kids that attend the Flomaton High School from Turtle Point and Hurricane Park. Kids go from one to the other, how can we going to ensure their safety? How are we going to get them from one to another, bus them? We can't even afford gas for the buses."
Ronnie Poiroux, Division Engineer for the Alabama Department of Transportation, was pleased with the results of the meeting, held Tuesday. "We were very pleased with the turnout at the public meeting. There were more attendants than we expected," said Poiroux. When asked about the reactions of the crowd, Poiroux said, "Most were really positive with people seeming to feel the need to four-lane Hwy 31."
Mayor Howard Shell was also in attendance at the meeting viewing the reactions of the crowd. "Anytime you are four-laning a road going into or out of a city, you are improving safety conditions. Also, by four-laning Hwy 31, we are making Atmore more accessible to industry, one thing the city is always in favor of," Shell said.
If you missed the meeting and would like to voice your opinion, you have until March 12 to send your comments to The Alabama Department of Transportation by faxing to (251) 478-5792 or emailing to the following address: hammamis@dot.state.al.us.

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