Mayor seeks funds for interchange/extension
By By Thomas Tingle
Record Managing Editor
Madison Mayor Jan Wells is seeking state funds to build an interchange at County Line Road and I-565 and she would like to widen and extend Balch Road from the curve at Browns Ferry Road south to Madison Boulevard.
While attending the North Alabama Mayor's Conference with Gov. Don Siegelman as its guest speaker, the mayor, who is the vice president and president elect of the North Alabama Mayor's Association, said it will cost less than $1 million to build an interchange at County Line Road using what already exists and expanding it with entrance and exit lanes.
The mayor said she has been in contact with the governor's office to inform him on the need for an interchange and local legislators, including Sen. Tom Butler, who also attended the mayor's conference, has told her that he is in favor of the project.
"We've done a traffic count on County Line Road and it shows as many as 18,000 cars going south from U.S. Highway 72 along County Line Road to Madison Boulevard," Wells said. "There has been a huge increase in the amount of traffic on this road and an interchange at I-565 is critical."
Wells said an interchange would allow for continued industrial and retail growth near the corridor and the plan to construct the interchange is simple.
"In talking with our city engineers, such a project could take 18 months to build," Wells said. "We continue to inform our legislators and the governor in this need for the city and I'm looking for line item funding to do it."
To the east of County Line Road, the mayor said the city is in need of another north and south artery through the city to relieve traffic congestion off Wall-Triana Highway and Hughes Road. Wells said she would like to see Balch Road widened to five lanes.
"What I envision that would occur once the expansion is done is seeing an increase in commercial construction on the north end of Balch Road at Highway 72. Then we could see an increase in residential development from Gooch Lane south to the Browns Ferry Road curve. From there, southbound, on property that is sparsely developed, we could see an increase in commercial growth to Madison Boulevard."
The mayor said she would like to get the Balch Road extension project on the Metropolitan Planning Organization's funding list since the MPO is the entity which dispenses federal and state highway funds.
"I'd like to see the interchange and Balch Road extension project done while I'm in office and that is why we are taking the necessary steps now to get the ball rolling," Wells said.