Georgiana by-pass not sitting well with businessman

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Looking down the road Georgiana Mayor Mike Middleton sees nothing but potential benefits from the by-pass, some of which encircles this town of around 1,700 in Butler County.

"I'm already talking to a couple of businesses who are very interested once it's completed," said Mayor Middleton who declined to name the businesses but describes them as 'convenience stores.'

When it's finished the road will stretch nearly 5 miles. The Alabama Department of Transportation says it's needed to ease traffic near town and according to the mayor, it will come in handy for another reason.

"It's bumper-to-bumper traffic up the two lane roads during a hurricane evacuation," said Mayor Middleton.

But some say this is a by-pass that leads to nowhere. It may help during a hurricane evacuation but a terrible roadmap for downtown businesses.

"People won't know where we are," said Royce Lowery.

Lowery took over his dad's hardware store years ago. Lowery believes the state should have simply widened Highway 31 just before the highway becomes 4 lanes. This is a well-traveled road for those going to the beach.

The by-pass, however, will in fact start at 106 which is just off Interstate 65, the road that comes into Georgiana, slice through the woods and connect with Highway 31.

Still, Lowery feels this is a bad deal all the way around even though the by-pass is not even a quarter of a mile from town.

"It won't be convenient for travelers," said Lowery.

"Good things are coming," Mayor Middleton promised.

At the 'Kozy Korner' diner Barbara Gunter is already noticing an impact from the road and bridge crews.

"They come in here everyday and they're here right now," said Gunter.

The road is still a little more than a year away from being finished. The mayor can't wait. Royce Lowery just hopes his family business of more than 50 years doesn't get by-passed.

State transportation officials say the job went to the lowest bidder to Newell Construction Company of Hope Hull for $6.9 million.

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