By Morgan Bryce
Increased connectivity, safety and growth incentives are the benefits of two new road projects that are slated to be completed this year, according to Opelika City Engineer Scott Parker.
The first project is an extension of Exit 64 off I-85 to connect it to the Opelika Sportsplex, to give its patrons another point of access. The development will consist of a two-lane roadway, open shoulders, bike path and sanitary sewer access.
“It will improve the connectivity and allow better access to the Sportsplex facility … another part of the project which is very unique is the installation of the sanitary sewers. Right now, there is no sanitary sewer access at the Anderson Road and West Point Parkway intersection at Exit 64,” Parker said. “You need sanitary sewer for developments and things like that to come in for that area, so we think that that addition with the roadway will really help spur and encourage development along the interchange area and corridor area along that part of town.”
The second project, a roundabout installation, is a part of the Frederick Road Extension Project. Parker said that the project’s goal is to extend Frederick Road past its current end point at the four-way stop on South Long Street until it intersects Martin Luther King Boulevard and Auburn Street.
Spearheaded by Ward 1 Councilwoman Patsy Jones, Parker said the development will enhance the area both in its aesthetics and its travel time.
“This roundabout is something where we can add green space to the area as well as something attractive and something that will draw to the downtown area. It’s kind of tied in with the original Carver-Jeter Plan that the city adopted a couple of years ago that had the concepts of roundabouts as intersections,” Parker said. “It’s really going to make a strong connection between Tiger Town and the downtown area.”
Currently, Opelika has only two roundabouts, located at Water Street and Academy Drive. Parker said that this new roundabout will be larger and at first, harder to navigate, and urges drivers to exercise caution until they are familiar with its rules.
“Those (Water Street and Academy Drive’s roundabouts) are smaller and easier to traverse … modern, full-scale roundabouts can be a little tricky for people to get the handle of. Hopefully, after a few times around, a lot of people will see that it’s easier to drive,” Parker said, “There’s less decisions than you have at a four-way stop, and it’s technically safer.”
Both projects are nearing final approval, and Parker said construction will begin in the coming weeks.