If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Please enter your email and we will send your username and password to you.
The preliminary plan presented by the Alabama Department of Transportation reflects a road diet anticipated for later this year when road work is done on U.S. Highway 231 in Rockford. The plan reflects turning the four-lane highway into a three-lane with a divided turning lane. Photo by Christa Jennings
This closeup of the 4-way intersection at U.S. Highway 231 and Alabama Highway 22 shows the planned road diet with turning lanes for turning west or east onto Highway 22. Photo by Christa Jennings
By Christa Jennings
Senior Staff Writer
The majority of the Rockford Town Council’s December meeting was spent hearing a presentation from representatives with the Alabama Department of Transportation regarding a preliminary plan for a road diet to be done later this year along U.S. Highway 231.
ALDOT Operations Engineer Shannon Jones and Maintenance Engineer Holly McCain presented the preliminary road diet plan to the council. Jones explained that ALDOT’s docket currently includes resurfacing Highway 231 from the south end of town to the north end of town.
At the meeting, he stated it was currently scheduled for January, but that it might be February before the initial part of the process begins. After awarding the bid, he said they will hopefully start the resurfacing in April or May.
While doing the resurfacing project, Jones mentioned the plan of doing a road diet in Rockford, which would take the highway from four lanes divided to a three-lane with a reversible turn in the middle. The plan would include a dedicated turning lane at the 4-way intersection for turning onto Alabama Highway 22.
The preliminary plan shows a dedicated left turning lane for those traveling from Highway 231 North to turn onto Highway 22 East. Similarly, it shows a dedicated right turning lane for those traveling Highway 231 South and turning onto Highway 22 West.
Jones said it would still be a four-lane highway up until approximately 700 to 1,000 feet north of the 4-way stop, based on the preliminary plan. The Town of Rockford stated that would be to Ash Street. Jones said north of the 4-way stop it would still give time for drivers to pass other vehicles if needed.
The preliminary plan also reflects the three lanes with a divided turning lane going south as far as Dollar General.
Jones added that the plan would allow for additional parking, as well, including parallel parking along the street.
McCain said among other improvements, the road diet should give an improved turning radius for tractor trailers and other larger vehicles.
During discussion, Police Chief George Fanning and McCain said that even with the dedicated turning lanes, it would still be a 4-way stop and would still be treated as such.
Town attorney Tom Young asked about any safety studies being done regarding the design. Jones said they had done it in New Site and that it is “operating very well” in their opinion, but turned the question over to McCain to answer.
She stated that from a crash history standpoint, they did see a slight reduction in speeding, but that there was not much crash history at New Site so there was not much to reduce regarding that.
Jones said that the road diet is a tool to help deal with safety issues, particularly speed reduction.
He added that the preliminary map presented is what the state plans for moving forward, with the town not needing to take action or make a decision. He said they always like for the locals to be involved and see that the state is not “pulling anything over” them.
In other business, the council considered one-time pay increases for the town employees. It was stated that last year the council approved $500 for full-time employees and $250 for part-time employees.
During brief discussion, Councilmember Shirley Ogle said that she thought the town should do the same thing it did last year.
With a motion by Robert Smith and a second by Nieshia Whetstone, the council unanimously approved a one-time pay increase of $500 for full-time employees and $250 for part-time employees, with Councilmember Lynn Anne Castleberry absent from the meeting.
That one-time increase was given to three full-time employees and one part-time employee. However, one of the full-time employees had not yet finished his 90-day probation period, so his one-time pay increase was prorated.
In other business, the council reviewed its contract with Avenu. While the town normally does a three-year contract, last year it just did a one-year contract.
The council once again unanimously approved renewing the Avenu contract for one year, with it reviewing the contract annually.
The next regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Rockford Town Council will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, January 16.