Concerns voiced over road closure

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 25, 2001

Staff Writer

A couple of people voiced concerns over the closure of a county roadway that is being considered in order to make improvements at Troy Municipal Airport.

Plans are being discusses to close County Road 289, known as Oak Grove Road, in an effort to bring the Runway 25 safety area up to state and federal standards.

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"From an economic development standpoint, it’s absolutely something we can’t not do,"

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said of closing the roadway.

The only other option is to shorten the runway if federal funds are going to be spent on the project.

He said he understands those living in that area will be inconvenienced, but does not see any other alternative.

Lunsford said the runway safety zone has to be a top priority in order to keep the airport license.

State regulations require a 200-foot safety zone at the end of the runway and it’s recommended the zone be 220 to 225 feet.

Cost of the project is estimated to be between $60,000 and $80,000.

Lunsford said the city council could have closed the roadway without the county’s input, but the city leaders did not want to work in that manner and chose to have a public hearing.

Tim Hornsby said he "understands the predicament both the city and county are in," but is also concerned about his elderly mother, whose life would be impacted by the road closure.

"I’m here as an interested son concerned about my mother’s health and welfare," Hornsby said during the public hearing.

He fears for the health of his mother, who has lived on Oak Grove Road for 25 years.

Hornsby said the road closure would lengthen the time it takes to get to her house. The 2.78 miles would become 4.865 miles.

"If my mother had a heart attack, the rescue squad would have to travel twice as far," Hornsby told commissioners.

He asked council members, the mayor and Macaluso to work with those being impacted so "everyone will be satisfied."

Mike Anderson, who lives behind Hornsby’s mother, also voiced concern.

Like his cousin, Anderson is concerned about his family’s safety and what might happen if emergency vehicles had to travel further before getting to his home.

He also wondered where his daughter’s school bus would turn around if the road was closed.

Terry Macaluso, vice president of Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon Inc. in Dothan, told council members alternatives were considered, but "we kept coming back to closing the road.

"It became very obvious…the best solution was to recommend closure of 289," Macaluso said. "It’s unfortunate, but safety-wise, necessary."

The Federal Aviation Administration has indicated the fence being planned for the airport needs to be outside the safety area.

However, the FAA has informed him if the city plans to use federal dollars on the project, the runway needs to be brought up to standard.

Macaluso said the option of rerouting the roadway has been thrown out because of cost.

It would cost about $250,000 to reroute the road because of wetlands and a church cemetery in that vicinity.

The Pike County Commission will have a public hearing

on the matter at 4:45 p.m., Aug. 13, the day before the council plans to take action on the issue.

In other business, the council:

· Asked Lunsford to send a letter to CSX, asking the railroad company to consider another option to closing the Walnut Street crossing.

· Approved B&B Skating to open in the Parklane Shopping Center. The matter had to be considered by the council because coin-operated pool tables were planned for the business.

There was no opposition voiced during the public hearing.

· Awarded a bid for runway 25 safety area improvements to McDonald’s Construction Company Inc. T 458,225.50. Other bidders were: APAC-Alabama Inc., $67,799.94; Floyd Construction Company Inc., $92,876; Milam and Company Construction Inc., $137,845.23 and Tri-State Contracting Inc., $66,571.80.

· Passed a resolution that will assess property owners for collection of taxes due because of the removal of dilapidated buildings. The properties are at 130 Martin Luther King, $1,225 and 115 Smith Avenue, $1,225.

· Entered into an agreement with the Salvation Army for an Emergency Shelter Grant in the amount of $26,250.

· Authorized the mayor to sign applications for federal funds that will be used for improvements at the airport.

· Set a public hearing for 5 p.m., Aug. 14 on the rezoning of 15.4 acres. Robert Sellers is asking the property be rezoned for a subdivision he is planning.