Beautiful Selma

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Landscaping project to improve Highway 80 entrance


Times-Journal Writer

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Work has finally begun on a project developed four years ago to revitalize the median and right-of-way along Highway 80 from Craig Field Industrial Park to the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

In 2000, the City of Selma received a $240,000 Enhancement Grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation to clear the weeds and trash along a portion of the historic highway and replace it with more appealing greenery, trees and wildflowers.

After a long delay, mostly caused by the state, it was announced Tuesday that a plan has been developed and a contractor has been obtained to begin work on the project immediately.

“This is a long time coming, but I’ m glad it’s finally happening,” said Elizabeth Driggers, head of the city’s Community Development and Planning Office.” I just hope we get the full cooperation of the businesses along Highway 80.”

Blake Bentley, owner of Bentley Turf and Landscape, said his crews will begin digging on Highway 80 within three to four weeks and the work should be completed by mid- January.

“I got my notice to proceed today,” Bentley said. ” I’ll have to maintain the shrubbery and trees for one year after the project is complete. Within two years, I feel residents will be very impressed.”

Driggers said the slow process of the project was due mainly to ” the highway department being so slow and the fact that many of the changes we wanted didn’t get approved.”

According to the architectural drawings developed by Sherlock, Smith & Adams, Inc., evergreens, crepe myrtle, and shrubbery will be planted along Highway 80.

Wildflowers will be found in specific locations such as the entrance to Craig Industrial Park and the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

The only part of the project that may make some people unhappy, Driggers said, is the removal of the trees already planted on the median along Highway 80.

“The trees along the median will come out because they do not meet state standards,” she said. “To make everyone happy, we are going to build a park near Tipton where people can plant trees in honor of loved ones.”

Bentley said the project may also interfere with some business parking lots for a day or two, but it should not cause too much of a problem.

“This project is going to change the image of the entrance to Selma,” Driggers said. “What industry representatives and tourists see first is what they think of Selma. This project will attract businesses and tourism. Plus, we can enjoy it ourselves.”