MUSCLE SHOALS — For nearly three years, a project to expand Wilson Dam Road to five lanes remained at a standstill.
Today, a great deal of activity is going on along the two-lane portion of the road that eventually will become part of a major Shoals corridor.
With right of way acquisition and other delays that bogged down the project now in the rear-view mirror, a Tennessee construction company, Highways Inc., began the latest portion of the widening project in September.
The completion of the acquisition and advancement of construction places Wilson Dam’s work at No. 6 among the top 10 local stories of the year as selected by TimesDaily staff.
The section stretches roughly from Avalon Avenue to the Norfolk Southern Railway overpass. The five-lane highway will include a center turn lane.
Black silt dams are positioned near the boundaries of the 1.9-mile work area to help prevent erosion from storm water runoff. The route of the new lanes has been graded in places between Sixth Street and the railroad overpass. Large stacks of black pipe along the route are indicators of new water and sanitary sewer lines that will be installed.
Lee Jones, project manager for Highways Inc., said subcontractor CD Roberts Contracting, of Jasper, is handling the water, sewer and gas line relocation. Highways Inc. was awarded the project after submitting the low bid of $11.6 million.
“The water and gas lines in our contract have got a real good start,” Jones said earlier this month. “It’s progressing well.”
While outside their contract, Jones said the relocation of electric, phone and cable lines also is moving forward.
He said sewer line relocation likely will begin after the first of the year.
The Alabama Department of Transportation opened bids for the project in June. The contract calls for the project to be completed in 320 working days, which usually is about two years, pending weather conditions.
A future project will widen Wilson Dam Road from the railroad overpass to Alabama 157. That project is scheduled for 2014.
Officials have long envisioned a Patton Island corridor that helps traffic move much easier from Alabama 157 across Wilson Dam, across the Singing River Bridge and along Helton Drive in Florence.
The Wilson Dam stretch has long been hazardous, and officials said it could have played roles in serious wrecks in recent years as the road has become more and more traveled.
Bernie Delinski can be reached at 256-740-5739 or bernie.delinski@TimesDaily.com.