The money's been set aside to finish parkway, but hurdles to completion remain
by Laura Camper
lcamper@annistonstar.com
Jan 31, 2013 | 5979 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Crews are shown in this file photo from last year working on Anniston's Pelham Road at the intersection with U.S. 431 — the northern terminus of Veterans Memorial Parkway (Anniston Star photo by Trent Penny)
Crews are shown in this file photo from last year working on Anniston's Pelham Road at the intersection with U.S. 431 — the northern terminus of Veterans Memorial Parkway (Anniston Star photo by Trent Penny)
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A state official said Wednesday the $15 million needed to pave the rest of Veterans Memorial Parkway has been allocated this fiscal year, but the road still may not open until 2015.

The paving to complete Anniston’s Veterans Memorial Parkway, a project started in 1999, is still months away, delaying the road’s opening until late 2014 or 2015, said DeJarvis Leonard, engineer for ALDOT’s Fourth Division.

The delay this time: Some minor adjustments need to be made to the design plans to make allowance for issues discovered during the grading process, he said.

The grading process, which was scheduled to be finished by the end of 2012, is also not complete. Weather is the culprit, he said. The rain and cold weather have kept the construction around the U.S. 431 and Alabama 21 intersection on hold, Leonard said.

“The next project hasn’t been scheduled to be let out for bid until late spring, early summer,” Leonard said. “So, we have time.”

The parkway has been delayed multiple times, most recently when ALDOT declared the original contractor doing the grading in default and removed the company from the project. It took about six months before a new contractor was hired and began work.

ALDOT is trying to move quickly on paving, the final project. The funding to finish the road has been allocated for the current budget year — fiscal year 2013, Leonard said. ALDOT also hopes to expedite the administrative process of awarding the contract, which should get a contractor on the ground by late summer or early fall, he said.

That would mean the project, which started some 14 years ago, may finally be finished in late 2014 or early 2015.

Anniston Councilman Jay Jenkins said council members had already heard the news in a meeting with representatives from ALDOT last week. The council met with the representatives to talk about silt accumulation at the Cane Creek Golf Course, Jenkins said.

“I think they’re doing the best they can with the dollars that they have,” Jenkins said. “I think we’d all like to see that road opened and moving forward. But it is what it is.”

He admitted 16 years is a long time, but it’s not uncommon with large projects, which can go through political change and funding issues.

Councilwoman Millie Harris said she was concerned about the number of accidents on the parkway at the intersection of Henry Road.

“We’ve had a lot of accidents there,” Harris said. “Out of 18, 16 were rear-end (collisions).”

She said she hopes ALDOT will find a way to make the intersection safer. Other than that, she’s pleased with the progress the department is making on the parkway, Harris said.

“That’s going to open up McClellan,” Harris said. “It’s going to open up huge opportunities for Anniston.”

Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.
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