ALDOT puts brakes on 31 four-lane work

Published 9:18 pm Wednesday, June 11, 2003

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP – Managing Editor
The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) is abandoning a four-laning project along Hwy. 31 between Brewton and Flomaton due to problems obtaining certain tracts of property.
According to ALDOT, the project was derailed due to three tracts of land that were not approved for condemnation by former Probate Judge Devon Wiggins.
This project would have meant that Hwy. 31 would be four-laned from the CSX Railroad Bridge north of Flomaton to Fannie Road. But, ALDOT said three tracts of land will keep the project from moving forward.
In a letter written to Escambia County Commission Chairman Larry White and read during Monday's meeting, ALDOT officials said they had no choice but to abandon the project.
The end of the project means that Hwy. 31 will continue to be a two-lane highway for several miles between Brewton and Flomaton.
White said he was disappointed that the project will not be completed and that he was concerned that the stretch of road will continue to be a troubled area in terms of vehicle accidents.
ALDOT officials said they did not have any other alternative than to shut down the project.
Despite the problems east of Flomaton, White said plans are proceeding in the four-laning of Hwy. 31 between Flomaton and Atmore and that he hoped residents would see that work get underway within the next few years. When that work is completed, the abandoned stretch will be the only part of Hwy. 31, between Brewton and Atmore that is not four-laned.
Other items discussed by the commission during Monday's meeting included:
Kent said even if Escambia County is not directly targeted by terrorism, it could be effected indirectly if cities such as Atlanta or Mobile are targeted and that local agencies should be prepared.
Kent said a countywide meeting for first responders and other officials will be held Monday, June 16 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Poarch Creek Tribal Auditorium to discuss the county's bioterrorism plan;
McKenzie said the program would allow classrooms that could be used for education and other activities and help get kids off the street.
McKenzie said the NAACP was receiving help in applying for the grant from the Escambia County District Attorney's Office. Escambia County Sheriff Grover Smith was on hand during the meeting and said he would support any effort to rid the county of drugs.
Commissioner Junior Hall agreed that the county should support the NAACP's efforts.
The commission took no action on the matter;
The commission would have to authorize a personnel change and agreed to table the matter until the June 23 meeting.

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