Work on school traffic signals, flasher coming soon
July 07--Installation and modification of new traffic signals and flashers at the new Athens High School are expected to get underway in a few weeks, an Athens city official said.
"We are putting bid packages together, and they will go out within the next few weeks," said Public Works Director James Rich. "We hope construction will begin soon after."
The work, which has a $1.5-million project budget, will include:
--Modification, operation and maintenance of existing traffic signals at U.S. 31 at Hobbs Street, U.S. 31 at Alabama 251/Pryor Street and U.S. 31 at Alabama 99 (Elm Street)/ Athens Sportsplex;
--Installation of a new traffic signal at the U.S. 31 at Athens High/Athens Bible School intersection;
--Removal of an overhead school flasher on U.S. 31 southbound, south of Alabama 251/Pryor Street; and
--Installation of new side-mount solar-powered school flashers on U.S. 31 at three locations: U.S. 31 southbound, south of Alabama 251/Pryor Street; U.S. 31 northbound, north of Alabama 251/Pryor Street; and U.S. 31 southbound, north of Oakview Apartments.
Trying to hurry
With classes starting at the end of August in Athens, the city wants the signals in front of the high school and the signals and turn lane in front of Athens Bible School finished and working as soon as possible.
The current plan is to move middle school students to the old high school off U.S. 31 North. If the new $55-million Athens High School, currently under construction on U.S. 31 north of the old campus, is not finished by then, school officials have a Plan B they will have to implement that involves leasing classroom space at Athens State University.
The new Athens Bible School, also under construction off U.S. 31 North, is expected to be finished Dec. 13. The $12-million, 43,000-square-foot, K-12 school will house students at the start of 2019.
ABS need not pay
Athens Councilman Harold Wales asked during a recent council meeting why ABS did not have to chip in on the $1.5-million project since they will be using the same right of way.
Rich said it was because the ABS entrance with left turn lane was already there before the high school project began. He said Alabama Department of Transportation engineers designed it, and AHS and ABS will work together to stagger school start and end times to try to ease traffic in the area.
"That may not be acceptable, but that is where we are," Rich told Wales.
The city won't have to pay the full cost of the improvement, anyway. ALDOT agreed to pay 50 percent of the $1.5-million project budget, or up to $750,000. The city will pay 75 or 80 percent of the rest of the cost and city schools will pay the remaining 20 or 25 percent, Rich said.
If the project costs more than the allotted $1.5 million, the city and city school system will have to cover 100 percent of the additional cost.