City encouraged to push back ATRIP project

Published 4:43pm Thursday, June 20, 2013

When the Sandbar restaurant opened earlier this year, they had no idea the state would shut down Dallas Avenue, the road that feeds into their restaurant, for at least eight months starting in June.

The Alabama Department of Transportation replaces bridges based on their age and condition each year. The bridge over Valley Creek on Dallas Avenue is just one of those bridges. While we agree the project must be done and completed, we are concerned for local businesses and how they will handle the potentially negative economic impact of the detour route.

The Sandbar is in a unique situation as they are in the portion of Dallas Avenue that will only have traffic going through to get to the Selma Marina and Bloch Park.

Owner of the Sandbar, Gordon McLendon said his strategy is to try and market the restaurant so that people do not totally forget about them because they will not be driving by each day. He is also concerned that if his lunch regulars who come from downtown work places have to take an extra 15 minutes of total travel time to get to his establishment, they may be discouraged to come because they only have a one-hour lunch break.

Business owners such as Buddy Swift of Swift Drug Company are concerned about traffic coming to the downtown area for business rather than Highland Avenue. Swift said he also fears for what the traffic might do to delay the delivery of the prescription drugs through his free delivery system.

We know there is not much to be done about these traffic delays and inconvenient detour routes. But there is one thing the city can make sure of during this planning phase. They can be sure to push back the ATRIP project that is scheduled to commence at the same time as the bridge replacement.

The detour route for the bridge replacement has drivers going through Old Town on Union Street and King Street, then down J.L. Chestnut Boulevard, and then back down Hooper Drive and Crescent Hill to get to Dallas Avenue again. There is a scheduled ATRIP project to repave Old Cahaba Road and Crescent Hill Drive during June and July.

We absolutely cannot fathom these two projects going on at the same time and as Swift put it, “paralyzing” the traffic flow of Selma. People would be absolutely trapped and discouraged from leaving their homes if they were traveling anywhere other than Highland Avenue and other state highways.

More than just businesses will be affected too. Everyone in Selma who uses Dallas Avenue to get to and from Winn-Dixie will be detoured.

Everyone who travels from West Selma to go shopping, go to church and go to work will have to make an extra 10 to 15 minutes part of their everyday travel routine.

We urge the city to make sure Selma has to only endure one barricade at a time.

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