County to cooperate to improve traffic from Justice Center onto Gateway Drive


By Fred Woods

Anyone who has ever tried to leave the T.K.Davis Justice Center onto Gateway Drive, particularly if they wanted to turn left, knows what a time-consuming and risky maneuver that is. Soon, as a result of a cooperative effort among the City of Opelika, Lee County and Bush Properties, Inc., a Georgia corporation, the process will be a lot easier and much safer.
The Lee County Commission agreed Monday night to contribute $250,000 and rights-of-way and easements where roadways cross county-owned land plus an additional nearly half-acre. Opelika and Bush had previously agreed to equitable contributions. After completion, an access road will be constructed from Gateway Drive about 1,200 feet to Corporate Drive (north of the Justice Center).  A connector road roughly 400 feet long will link the Justice Center parking lot with the connector road and the current access from the Justice Center to Gateway will be closed. The connector road, to be located just north of the Lee-Russell COG building, will be aligned with Hamilton Place St. on the west side of Gateway and a traffic light will be installed.
Bush Properties, which is paying its share of the costs, owns property on the north side of the access road and, of course, will be able to develop that property. Construction is expected to start in Sept. or early October. with completion expected by spring of next year, about one year from now.
The commission also voted to give $2,500, subject to the availability of funds in the contingency fund, to the Family Enrichment Center located in the Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Loachapoka, to be used in their summer youth camp program for young people in the Loachapoka area. The center, established by the pastor and members of Mt. Zion in August 2011, includes a senior citizens center, community awareness programs and family empowerment workshops. This is a 501(c)(3) organization, and contributions are tax deductible. Readers wishing to contribute may mail contributions to Family Enrichment Center, P.O Box 120, Loachapoka, AL 36865.
Donnie Smith, director of Chambers County 9-1-1/EMA, was in attendance to present a plaque to Johnny Langley, deputy director of Lee County EMA, to recognize Langley’s service as part of Chambers County’s Mobile Communications and Technology Team (MCAT) during its recent deployment in support of the 50th Anniversary Selma March.
Chambers County hosts one of the seven MCAT vans stationed around the state and depends on Lee and Russell EMAs to help staff it for special events and emergencies.
In other action the commission:
-approved April 7 as National Service Recognition Day in Lee County,
-heard from County Engineer John Hardee that the bridge replacement on Lee Road 10 was proceeding ahead of schedule and the project could quite possibly be reopened ahead of the target of mid-summer,
-declined to act to  assist with Mr. Buddy Messer’s drainage problem by diverting water dumped on Mr. Messer’s property from a culvert under Lee Road 146 (Commissioner John Andrew Harris’ motion to assist died for lack of a second),
-heard from Hardee that the county could save more than $250,000 in construction costs by substituting a box culvert option for a bridge across Hodnett Creek on Wire Road (LR 137) near the Macon County line,
-adopted meeting center policies and procedures for the renovated former Johnson Gallery building behind the courthouse, and
-heard from Hardee relative to development of agreements with Auburn and Opelika outlining subdivision regulation enforcement within their respective planning jurisdictions (5 miles beyond city limits for Auburn and 3 miles for Opelika).


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