Back and forth on the parkway: Once again, Calhoun County waits on funding for vital road
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Nov 30, 2012 | 2043 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Photo: Trent Penny/The Anniston Star
Photo: Trent Penny/The Anniston Star
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It’s time to rename unfinished Veterans Memorial Parkway the “Yo-Yo Road of Calhoun County.” Back and forth its progress goes — a step here, two steps there, its future eternally clouded in fiscal uncertainties.

The good: The first portion of the road opened in early 2011.

The bad: The second portion won’t open until late 2014 — if then.

The good: Traveling the Iron Mountain Road-Bains Gap portion of the road isn’t that bad.

The bad: Traveling the Iron Mountain Road-Bains Gap portion will be quickly avoided once the parkway’s second half is completed.

The good: The Pelham Road portion of the parkway is expected to be finished soon.

The bad: The Alabama Department of Transportation spent the last $11 million of federal stimulus money originally allocated for the parkway on other projects.

The good: Having one half of the parkway completed is better than having none of it completed.

The bad: $15 million to $20 million is needed to pave the remaining portion of the parkway, and no one’s quite sure when that money will trickle down from Washington.

Here we sit on Dec. 1, 2012, more than 14 years after Congress gave the initial go-ahead for the parkway project, 11 years after the first shovel of dirt was turned and nine years after the first portion opened from Interstate 20.

And the parkway still isn’t finished.

It is a much-needed road whose fate has been affected, often negatively, by politics, economic realities, problems with construction firms, statewide infrastructure needs and rapidly rising construction costs. That toxic stew of calamities has taken a difficult parkway project and turned it into a road that may take nearly two decades to build.

Solutions aren’t bountiful. Money from the federal transportation bill represents the easiest, most convenient solution — but ALDOT will have to dole out its D.C. money as it sees fit, and there’s no guarantee today that the money to pave the final portion will be available as fast as we think it should.

Let’s be clear: Veterans Memorial Parkway’s significance hasn’t diminished. When completed, it will be the limited-access, north-south artery this county sorely needs. With Anniston’s new mayor in place and an Annistonian residing as the president pro tem of the state Senate, we’d like to believe ALDOT will hear daily of the importance of funding this project’s completion.

Until then, we wait. We’re getting good at that.
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