State holds 43 input meeting

Published 1:11 pm Thursday, March 31, 2011

LINDEN – When Kathryn Friday took office as the mayor of Linden in 1996 she drove down to Grove Hill to meet with Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) engineers about the expansion of Highway 43 through her town.

“They told me I’d be driving on (the expansion) before I left office,” she laughed.

Obviously ALDOT missed their target date as Friday is presently employed by the Alabama Cooperative Extension and Mitzi Gates sits in the mayor’s chair.

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Fourteen years later, Friday’s goals and expectations have changed as the state has yet to move the first mound of dirt toward expanding the road.

“Now, I just hope I get to drive on it. Period,” Friday said.

Engineers from ALDOT were on hand yesterday afternoon at the Marengo County Courthouse to discuss the proposed expansion and the impact it could have on the landowners near both the proposed routes and their right of ways.

“Well, the VFW is in a little trouble,” Lee Belcher, Adjutant of Marengo County Disabled American Veterans Chapter 31 said, pointing out the VFW currently sits in the middle of a proposed right of way for an access road. “I guess we’ll just have to move.”

Maps of each segment of the proposed expansion lined the walls and tables of the courtroom, giving passersby a birds-eye, GPS view of their property along the route from Thomasville to the intersection of Highway 43 and 80 in Demopolis.

Still, while Belcher and a handful of other residents face hurdles over right of ways and property lines, Gates said the impact on the county seat could be of epic proportions.

“I think it will be nothing but positive in the long run,” she said of the highway expansion. “It cuts right through the industrial park. That in itself could be huge.”

In the end, the project would add two traffic lanes from State Route 5 in Thomasville to Highway 80 in Demopolis.

The proposed construction is actually broken into two projects: from Thomasville to just south of Linden – Project: NHF-0013(566) – and from Linden to Demopolis – Project: NHF-0013(565).