SHEFFIELD — Mayor Ian Sanford wants to complete renovations along Montgomery Avenue before tackling improvements along Cox Boulevard.
Both projects are part of the Shoals Transportation Improvement Program that is managed by the Shoals Metropolitan Planning Organization.
“I’m ready to get downtown completed,” Sanford said. “We have the opportunity to pick which (project) we want to do first.”
Three streetscape-style projects have improved the appearance of downtown Sheffield and the next project is designed to fill the gaps, city officials said.
The project, which has an estimated price tag of $1 million, would resurface Montgomery Avenue, between the intersections, from First Street to Sixth Street.
The intersection portions were resurfaced as part of the streetscape projects that added flower beds and brick paver crosswalks to the intersections at Third, Fourth and Fifth streets. A project to improve Second Street is under way.
The final downtown project also would include replacing old, broken sidewalks to match the new ones installed during past streetscape project, and add new traffic signal poles, Sanford said.
One major and expensive component of the project is the rehabilitation of the railroad crossing at Montgomery Avenue.
Sanford said that work would be completed by Norfolk Southern Railway.
Keith Strickland, an engineer with the Birmingham firm of Goodwyn Mills & Cawood, said the railroad crossing would be replaced with concrete panels similar to the crossing at Avalon Avenue in Muscle Shoals.
“We are currently waiting on (the state transportation department) to review the engineering fees,” Strickland said. “I would expect everything to be in place so we can begin design by the end of the year and the project could be ready to bid by the end of 2013.”
The Cox Boulevard project, Strickland said, is estimated at about $1 million. The city is required to pay a 20 percent match.
“We’re kind of trying to figure out the best thing to do out there,” Sanford said.
The present plans include resurfacing the existing roadway as well as adding curb, gutter and drainage infrastructure. Slope corrections will be made in certain areas. The project calls for the road to be striped as a three-lane road, with a center turn lane.
Sanford said he has concerns about a three-lane road and believes a five-lane road would be better.
“We are currently studying the feasibility of widening the roadway to a five-lane section,” Strickland said. “This would provide the same thru capacity as it has today and provide the very important center turn lane as well.”
Sanford said a five-lane road would require utility relocation and possibly right of way acquisition.
“Obviously, that’s more money,” he said. “We need to get rid of some of these other projects so we can come up with the match money for that. Cox Boulevard is very important, but we don’t need to leave downtown piecemeal.”
Strickland said he does not have a cost estimate on the five-lane project.
Sanford said work has resumed on the Second Street renovation project, which involves intersection improvements at Montgomery Avenue, resurfacing the two-lane portion of Second Street from Montgomery Avenue to Dover Street, repairing and replacing sidewalks, and adding new decorative mast arm traffic signal poles.
The project had been on hold since early summer, but contractors have resumed work and are pouring the concrete footings for the traffic signal poles.
Russ Corey can be reached at 256-740-5738 or russ.corey@TimesDaily.com.