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Agreements improve 6th Avenue traffic lights, roads at new school

Traffic flow will soon improve on Sixth Avenue and a portion of Alabama 67 with the state agreeing to add a wireless signal synchronization system along the route. Efforts are also underway to upgrade traffic lights at Alabama 67 and Indian Hills Road, in preparation for commercial development there, but no traffic light is planned for Modaus Road at the site of the new Austin High School. Mayor Tab Bowling said Alabama Department of Transportation Director John Cooper agreed the state would pay up to $100,000 of the $140,000 needed for the wireless signal synchronization system. Bowling and Cooper met last week in Montgomery.

Bowling said 22 traffic lights will be synchronized like those we added on Beltline Road along Sixth Avenue, from Wilson Street to the Alabama 67 intersection, and east on Alabama 67 to the Country Club Road intersection. City Director of Development Wally Terry said the wireless system eliminates the need for hard-wired controllers of the traffic lights and rollover strips in the pavement that trip the lights. Many of these old controllers are beginning to fail, he said. Terry said the new system features surveillance cameras that detect when vehicles arrive at an intersection. The cameras can also be used for traffic monitoring and security.

Dewayne Hellums, director of the Decatur-area Metropolitan Planning Organization, said the city’s portion will pay for the grant match and the project engineering. Also this week, the City Council gave Bowling authority to complete an agreement with ALDOT to upgrade and maintain the traffic lights when the realignment of the Alabama 67/Indian Hills Road intersection is complete. Terry said he didn t know how much the traffic lights portion of the $500,000 realignment of the Alabama 67/Indian Hills Road intersection will cost.

The city is realigning the intersection as part of an agreement made to attract the Point Mallard Centre commercial development that will feature a Publix grocery store as the anchor business. George McBee, vice president of retail development for Teramore Development of Trinity, Florida, said Tuesday that his company is finalizing the construction contract with a Publix-approved contractor.

We should mobilize and begin construction in two or three weeks, McBee said. The council also approved an agreement with Pugh Wright McAnally Civil Engineers to do the engineering work on Shady Grove Lane, Modaus Road and their intersection. The city plans to upgrade the roads before the new Austin High opens in 2018.

Earlier this month, police Chief Nate Allen questioned why plans for the new school do not include a traffic light at the main entrance. After meeting with Terry and Blake McAnally, of Pugh Wright McAnally, Allen said this week he is OK with not initially adding a traffic light.

We had a very good discussion, Allen said. I m concerned about the children. I m looking down the road and they are, too. We may have to use a crossing guard, but placing policemen out there shouldn t be done in place of a (traffic) light. Terry said all agreed that a traffic light can be added later at the main entrance, but a traffic study indicated one is not yet warranted.

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