Opelika reduces scope of I-85 connector project

Opelika reduces scope of I-85 connector project

OPELIKA, AL (WSFA) - It’s back to the drawing board for a multi-million dollar roadway project in Opelika after residents express some serious concerns. The Opelika City Council has made major changes to the design of the I-85 connector project.

“Part of that connector showed using Veterans Parkway, then a short section of Oak Bowery Road, then Morris Avenue, then a new road from Morris Avenue over to the Sportsplex connector road,” explained Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller.

The change is in large part because of community feedback.

“The people on Morris Avenue were adamantly opposed to doing any kind of improvements to Morris Avenue," Fuller said. “The council has removed Oak Bowery Road and Morris Avenue. We cant amend our grant, but if we get it then we will have to find an alternate route to replace those two sections of roadway.”

Many Morris Ave. residents say that they live in a residential area and they are glad that the two-lane road is not going to be expanded to a three-lane road with a bike path. They say that although they do not want the interstate and West Fraser Mills traffic near Opelika High School, they also don’t want increased traffic and tractor trailers on their street.

“Our concern was moving an intersection from one school to an elementary school and that just didn’t make a lot of sense,” said Morris Ave. resident Ottis Cherry. “We just felt like that would increase the traffic more. Plus, I didn’t think it would be a good idea to have children going to school on a bicycle in a bicycle lane with three lanes of traffic.”

Officials are still awaiting a $17 million grant approval to cover most of the the more than $22 million project.

A truck ordinance was also introduced at the city council meeting in hopes to help regulate some of that heavy truck traffic. That ordinance should be voted on at an upcoming city council meeting.

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