By Sarrah Peters
Local officials met Thursday, July 9 with ALDOT director John Cooper to discuss future plans for highways and roads in Etowah County.
The purpose for the meeting was for Cooper to announce that Brian Davis, chief of the engineering division for ALDOT, will be evaluating the needs of the county. To do this he will using information such as traffic counts.
Cooper said that although funds are lacking, there is no need not to “put in front of ourselves what is needed.”
“It occurs to me that we should not let the lack of funding stop us from planning,” said Cooper.
Local officials brought up two major road problems in Etowah County: the I-759 extension and the Southside bridge on Hwy. 77.
The I-759 extension is not in the long range plans at this time. The Southside bridge is a noticable traffic problem that Cooper is aware of, but it is not as bad as other areas statewide, which must be addressed first.
The problem comes back to funding. Cooper said that he is forced to say ‘no’ too much.
“I wish I had the funding to just solve your problems,” said Cooper. “I know there are unmet needs.”
With the lack of funds for major needs unmet, funding for smaller things, such as bike trails, are hard to consider. At the moment, there are no plans to connect the Chief Ladiga Trail to Etowah County.
“It was encouraging to see the highway department come and take an interest in what we need in Etowah County,” said State Representative Craig Ford.
Ford expressed his disappointment that U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., has not lent support for the I-759 extension and the Southside bridge despite local leaders reaching out to him.