The residents of Southside, AL, as well as many others, have waited over thirty years for a Northbound Bridge Replacement across the Coosa River. Many times, they have been told it was on a 5 year, 10 year, 20 year plan - yet other projects in Alabama continue to break line.
The 20 year plan has expired and the people of Southside, as well as many others who travel the path, are growing impatient. Ronnie Phillips and Dennis Pentecost, two life-long residents of Southside, have been hand-delivering petitions to businesses all over Southside to gather signatures. Within a few days there were twenty-seven businesses in Southside supporting the petition, placing it on their front counter where it could be seen and signed. "The more support we can put on the Governor's desk, the better chance we have at gaining some ground on the issue."
Mr. Phillips and Mr. Pentecost contacted the City of Ohatchee; whereupon we were asked to attend the council meeting on January 15th. Mayor Baswell and the council were so receptive of the idea, I contacted Mayor Watson of Lincoln and on January 22nd, we attended the council meeting in Lincoln. Both cities were very welcoming of the idea and the petition can now be found around the cities of Ohatchee and Lincoln.
Several plans from ALDOT have been presented to the City of Southside to help ease the traffic going north-bound, across the one-lane bridge to Rainbow City. One such idea would have moved the traffic problem from Southside to Rainbow City. No one would have wanted that, especially Rainbow City, so we declined the proposal. Mr. Phillips and Mr. Pentecost attended a pre-council meeting in Rainbow City on January 28th, leaving petitions for them to distribute.
All four cities from Lincoln to Rainbow City are in favor of this project and are working to get it back on the table. Completing the 4-lane on Highway 77 and replacing the Northbound Bridge across the Coosa, connecting I-20 to I-59 would be beneficial in many aspects. This project would not only ease the traffic situation but would make a huge economic impact on the areas, bringing more revenue for other much needed projects in these growing cities. One Mayor stated, "I don't think anyone in Montgomery realizes the economic impact these projects will have on this area and the state."
For years we have heard from the ALDOT Director "there is no money". Federal funds are made available to the state and we want to make sure we get our share. As an elected representative of the City of Southside, I believe this is vital for the health, benefit and welfare of our residents.
The Honda plant in Lincoln has made a tremendous impact on that area as well as the State of Alabama. They employ over 4,500 people, a lot of whom travel Highway 77 through Southside. Honda has also impacted many cities north of Lincoln, thereby increasing the number of transfer trucks along the route. The traffic has continued to increase tremendously over the years, increasing the amount of accidents along Highway 77. One such incident would have likely been avoided had there been another lane going northbound.
I believe with the newly elected Senator of District 10, Andrew Jones and Representatives of Etowah County District's 28, 29 and 30, along with representatives from Calhoun and Talladega Counties, the project will gain more ground in Montgomery. But, we can not sit idle and wait. As an elected representative of Southside, I feel it is imperative that we move forward and keep working and pushing until we get what we should have had thirty years ago.
We need your support in our efforts to connect I-20 to I-59 by completing the four-lane along Highway 77 between the two interstates, and constructing a new northbound bridge across the Coosa River between the City of Southside and Rainbow City.
We welcome your help and ask that you sign the petition and contact your state representatives by phone, email or letter.
To find your Representative and for contact information you can go to www.alabama.gov.
You may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or for the address, email and phone number of your state representative.