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Transportation, public safety issues addressed by Oxford City Council

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OXFORD The Oxford City Council quickly and unanimously approved four items Tuesday evening that in many respects were all concerned in varying degrees with public safety.

The council voted to contract with Harber Enterprises LLC from Thomasville, Ga., for the construction of two community tornado shelter/safe rooms. The contract calls for the shelter spaces to be constructed at a cost of $100,000 each, with half the cost paid upon contract signing and the remainder paid after completion.

Fire Chief Gary Sparks said the two dome-shaped structures would each have a capacity of 95 persons. One will be located at the Friendship Community Center and the other at the Fire Training station/City Garage site on U.S. 78.

The contract specifies the work on the shelters will be “substantially completed” within 180 days of the bid’s acceptance. Sparks added the  city’s public works department will be doing the site preparations.

Council members also approved a resolution permitting Mayor Alton Craft to submit an Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement II Program application seeking improvement to the U.S. 78/Leon Smith Parkway intersection and the U.S. 78/Sunny Eve Road intersection.

The resolution states the improvements “would help to ensure proper traffic flow and minimize hazardous conditions for the traveling public” and the city of Oxford “is committing to provide the applicable required matching funds for the project.”

ATRIP-II provides funding for transportation projects that “improve any state-maintained highway system” and, outside of any incidental work that might be required, cannot be used for local roads and bridges.

Records posted by the Alabama Department of Transportation show no entity in Calhoun County has received any of these funds in the previous two fiscal years.

If the city of Oxford is awarded the funding, it will have to wait until the project requested is under contract before it can submit another request. Entities may only submit one request each fiscal year.

The current ATRIP-II application, which must be completed and returned to the state by Nov. 19, says the maximum amount that will be considered for any individual project under the current fiscal year is $2 million out of a total state budget allotment of $40 million. It also states local or other funding sources to supplement requested ATRIP-II funding is not required, “but projects containing a commitment to provide supplemental funding may be given favorable consideration by the ATRIP-II Committee.”

Council further advanced its transportation portfolio as it approved a $125,700 contract with CDG Engineers and Associates, Inc. from Gadsden to “study the feasibility of a new and/or expanded roadway between the Oxford Exchange shopping center and Sunny Eve Road.

CDG, in its agreement, says an alternative connecting roadway is attractive to the city “to reduce traffic congestion at the Leon Smith and Oxford Exchange Boulevard intersection by providing an alternate ingress/egress route and to open available land to future development on the east side of the existing shopping center.”

The engineering firs says a new route would be expected to consist of approximately 1 mile of new roadway to connect the shopping center to Buckelew Bridge Road.

“From that point, Buckelew Bridge Road will be widened and improved for approximately 0.8 miles to the Sunny Eve Road intersection, by which motorists will have a direct route to U.S. Highway 78 and Dearmanville Road,” CDG states in its proposal to further study the extension corridor possibility.

The agreement says CDG “will evaluate the most advantageous route for the roadway concerning any potential environmental concerns as well as provide a conceptual layout and preliminary project estimate.”

“We desperately need another way out of the Exchange,” said Council President Chris Spurlin.

Council members also recognized the efforts of the World Changers organization having “provided assistance to low-income citizens with various home repairs and minor construction projects.”

An appropriation of $4,055.21 was authorized to World Changers for providing those services at no cost this summer to the low-income citizens of the city.

Council members Charlotte Hubbard and Steven Waits were not present at the meeting due to previous work commitments, according to Spurlin.