Funds will help Troy light up Hwy. 231

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 7, 2000

Managing Editor

March 6, 2000 11 PM

Mayor Jimmy C. Lunsford believes better lighting along Highway 231 means better safety and better business, and funds from the Alabama Department of Transportation will soon put his theory to a test.

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Monday, dignitaries from ADOT, along with Lunsford, Pike County Chamber of Commerce President Marsha Gaylard, Chamber Board Chairman John Schmidt and Shelly Phillips with the South Alabama Electric Cooperative, announced state funds are available to install strong lighting along Highway 231 from the overpass at Highway 29 to the site of the new Wal-Mart facility.

"I have been interested in doing this for some time now," Lunsford said. "I feel that as we light some of the darker areas, we will entice development. In particular, I feel like the north end of town has a lot of potential for growth."

Lunsford said his concerns for lighting developed as traffic on 231 has escalated over the years, making its traffic burden heavy.

"Safety is the key reason for doing this, and development is something we expect along with it," Lunsford said.

The city is making in-kind donations to the project in terms of engineering studies, equipment crews, Lunsford said, while the state is anteing up with $400,000 in funds for the project.

South Alabama Electric Cooperative has agreed to allow the city to use existing poles that are in place, where possible, to help cut cost so as much of the project as possible can be completed.

Mike Griffin, division engineer for the ADOT, said the first priority is to complete the project from 29 to Wal-Mart, and to cut as much cost as possible to continue adding as much lighting as possible until the funds run out.

"This will add significantly to the safety of the roadway, and to economic development," Griffin said. "We may be able to pick up other areas in the coming years to have a complete project through Troy."

Besides safety concerns, leaders believe the lighting will add a degree of uniformity to the city, contrasting with the sporadic use of lighting at the city’s major intersections along 231.

"We feel like this will make an impression to travelers and could spark commercial development," Lunsford said. "It’s something we are excited about."

The lighting will be placed between 25 and 30 feet from the edge of the pavement to ensure safety.

"We aren’t going to go down the middle with these," Lunsford said.

Engineers were hopeful that the project could be started as early as the beginning of summer, but are concerned they may not meet that timeline.

Still, Chamber officials are excited about the potential for development and growth.

"This kind of a cooperative agreement based on the mayor’s vision and the working together of the city, South Alabama Electric Cooperative and the Department of Transportation are the kinds of things that are going to lead us into the next century," Schmidt said. "This is a great reflection on Pike County and stands to do a lot of good for us."