MCKENZIE, Ala. (WSFA) - Seven years of haggling, pleading and meeting with ALDOT leaders to put in two turning lanes on Highway 55 has paid off for a town in Alabama.
What a road it’s been for McKenzie mayor Lestor Odom.
“It’s more difficult than I expected, but I also learned patience. You have to work with people," said Odom.
In late September, the mayor got the news he had long hoped for but admitted he was surprised.
“Not only my family but everyone who lives here family’s involved," he said.
Gov. Kay Ivey and ALDOT say they will release funds from the recently passed gas tax to build two new turning lanes at Highway 55 and Garland Road and another one two miles down at 55 and Highway 31. The mayor was quick to point out this was a team effort, not all him.
“It was the county engineer. Our state representative," said Odom.
More than 120 cities applied for a share of the new gas tax fund for road. McKenzie was part of the group of 28 that were selected.
The chairman of the Butler County Commission says the turning lanes can’t come soon enough because just in the last two years, three people have died as a direct result of not having a safe place on 55 to make a left turn.
“It’s not only a big deal to the locals that live here. It’s a big deal to our fellow neighbors traveling back and forth to the beach,” said Chairman Joey Peavy.
“Again, the safety of the people was our main importance to us," said Butler County Commissioner Darryl Sanders, who represents this part of Butler County.
With the new state fuel tax money, the new turn lanes will be the first road project in Butler County, with more to come.
“We have a five year plan already in place with multiple road projects on the table," said Peavy.
The work will cost more than $550,000. Construction is expected to begin sometime in 2020.
Odom and the county commissioners say the traffic count on that part of Highway 55 is at least 5,000 vehicles per day.