Truck route still a possibility

Published 1:21 am Sunday, December 7, 2003

By By JOHN DILMORE JR. Publisher
Two major transportation-related issues that loom before Brewton stand to have far-reaching consequences for the city, both in terms of economic development and quality of life.
The two issues -- which are so closely related they can really be discussed as one -- are the four-laning of either Hwy. 31 or Hwy. 41 to I-65, and the creation of a truck route, or bypass, that would allow faster access around and through the city.
City officials hope to meet soon with state legislators and Department of Transportation (DOT) representatives to discuss options for the proposed projects.
The purpose of four-laning one of the local highways -- from just north of the city to the interstate -- would be to provide the Alabama leg of a proposed four-lane corridor stretching from Florida to I-65 for the purpose of faster hurricane evacuation.
The purpose of the truck route would be to serve as a connector for the leg south of the city to the leg to the north. Otherwise, traffic would have to flow through the city -- something seen as virtually impossible.
If the proposed projects were to come about, creating an effective northern corridor which bypasses the city with a truck route such as the one proposed, the benefits to Brewton would be two-fold.
First, having such a direct route from the city to the interstate is seen as key to future industrial development inside the city.
Many companies simply want easier interstate access than the city's transportation infrastructure can currently provide.
And secondly, the truck route portion of the project would serve as just that -- a way for trucks passing through the city to do so without impacting traffic on city streets not meant to handle vehicles their size.
Jennings said that he is optimistic about the upcoming talks with DOT officials and legislators.