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Valley Grande project still on the books

The Valley Grande City Council has plans in the works to take advantage of money that will be allocated for Alabama Department of Transportation projects by President Barack Obama’s stimulus package.

According to Councilwoman Libby Ezell, every county will receive $265,000 from the Alabama Department of Transportation for transportation, and $9.7 million is coming to widen two-lane roads.

The Dallas County Commission has put together a package that includes revamping projects for County Road 81 and County Road 16, in addition to Valley Creek Church Road.

However, the bell cow project is a separate road-widening project that would extend the five-lane portion of Alabama Highway 22 that leads from Citizens Parkway in Selma through Valley Grande by 5.1 miles in hopes of attracting more business.

According to Valley Grande Mayor Tom Lee, the project would alleviate the financial burden placed on new businesses to fund a turning lane from the road into their business. Lee said the cost for the lane ranges from $80-100,000.

“If the state will move forward – and they say they are – with the project, and put that fifth lane in, it eliminates – that’s an automatic turning lane. It’s a huge economic factor,” said Lee. “Another [economic factor] is that a number of business use Highway 22 to get to Birmingham and all points north. Part of that is what’s driving the need to get five more miles of entrance in and out of Selma.”

Ezell said that the project is listed on the Alabama Department of Transportation Website as an active project, and Lee said that the project plan has made its way to the office of Rep. Artur Davis. He said that the project is one of 11 taken into consideration, and the field will next be narrowed to five.

Lee also said that the project is receiving heavy consideration in part because Davis is identifying projects that are necessary for safety and economic development. Increasing traffic on Highway 22 has given the project a significant boost, Lee said.