Council discusses change to Highway 43 truck route

Published 5:55 pm Monday, July 1, 2013

Demopolis City Council heard concerns about proposed changes to the U.S. 43 truck route during its meeting Monday.

Aliquippa Allen spoke on behalf of 350 people who signed a petition asking the council to reconsider changing the route.

Allen asked the council why they were rerouting traffic from a business district into a residential one.

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She said bringing traffic all the way down Cedar Avenue to Fulton Street would put citizens in harm’s way.

“Before ALDOT begins this project, (we request) that you withdraw this resolution, because it’s not zoned for heavy traffic,” Allen said. “Most importantly, it puts the most vulnerable population in harm’s way.”

Allen said she was concerned that there was only a sidewalk on one side of the road and that people will have to back out into traffic. She’s also worried about speeding trucks and no traffic lights past Capitol Street.

“Once the trucks come off that bridge, they are not slowing down to 30 miles an hour,” Allen said. “This is not something that is in the best interest of public safety in this community.”

Mayor Mike Grayson said the changes were requested by the Alabama Department of Transportation and revert back to how the route was for decades prior to 2008.

Grayson said the truck route was changed five years ago because trucks kept churning up the intersection at Cedar and Fulton, which was costing the city more than $20,000 every quarter to repair.

“It was viewed as a cost saving decision,” Grayson said. “We’re just reestablishing where it has been for years and years.”

ALDOT will be responsible for maintaining the truck route going forward.

Al Garrett, president of Robertson Banking Company, said the bank opposed rerouting Highway 43 in 2008. Robertson Bank’s downtown branch sits at the corner of Walnut Avenue and Capitol Street, one of the current route’s busiest intersections.

“When the route was changed to where it is now, the bank did try to protest, just because of the safety issues,” said Garrett.

Approximately 45 employees work in the bank and cross the current truck route multiple times a day, Garrett said.

“Needless to say, we are certainly glad to hear about the possibility of changing the route back to where it was,” Garrett said.

Following the discussion, Councilman Charles Jones Jr. made a resolution to rescind changing the truck route, which was seconded by Nathan Hardy. It was voted down 4-2, with Harris Nelson, Bill Meador, Cleveland Cole and Grayson voting against.

In voting no, Meador said he wants to look into the issue but wants the resolution to stay with ALDOT because if the proposed changes go into effect, rescinding it now could add months of red tape and delays. Work was expected to begin in September.

“We can always stop it later,” Meador said. “I will say we need to look into it further so our residents don’t feel like they have been steamrolled.”