Work on U.S. 31 nears completion

Spanish Fort officials want some issues resolved before work listed as done


SPANISH FORT – City officials are preparing to take over U.S. 31 following work over the last several years to widen the highway, but some details are still awaiting completion, Mayor Mike McMillan said.

The Alabama Department of Transportation began work in 2018 to widen the highway from two lanes to four from the downtown area to Rockwell Elementary School, east of Alabama 181.

All four lanes are open, but McMillan said that before the city can agree that the project is complete, some problems should be resolved. McMillan and Public Works Director Chester Patterson inspected the road and found about 200 items that should be fixed.

“It’s little things like completing curbing in front of the Fire Department so the fire trucks that run over that curbing don’t pop those tires,” McMillan said. “How much is a fire truck tire, $700, $800?”

Fire Chief Roger Few agreed that the curbing edges should be tapered at the station on U.S. 31. “It’s a real tight turn,” he said.

McMillan said city officials have requested a meeting with ALDOT to discuss the project.

“Hopefully we’ll get that project competed so we can go forward,” McMillan said. “Riviera is chomping at the bit to finish the lighting, but we can’t do that until we get everything else squared away. So, we’re in the process.”

Spanish Fort plans to add street lighting to the widened areas of U.S. 31 similar to lights now in place in the downtown area west of the area where the road was expanded.

The City Council voted in November to hire engineers to prepare medians and rights of way along the highway for lights and landscaping. The city also plans to add sidewalks along the length of the expanded road.

McMillan said at that time that Spanish Fort officials plan to create the appearance of a boulevard along the highway through the city.

Work on the project to widen U.S. 31 began in March 2018.  The project was delayed by weather and the need to move unmapped utilities delayed progress on the project, according to state highway officials.

At the beginning of 2021, officials said the work would be completed by April. That date was later moved to October and then the end of the year.

The road was opened to traffic on all four lanes by the end of 2021 and the speed limits increased to 45 miles an hour.