ALDOT shows new plans for controversial Highway 160

BLOUNT COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - By Jonathan Hardison

BLOUNT COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - Residents in Hayden, Warrior, and Blount County got a fresh look at ALDOT's new plans to fix part of Highway 160. It's a stretch of roadway that has claimed more than a dozen lives in recent years.

ALDOT's plans would widen the deadly roadway into a 4-lane highway with a center turn lane from I-65 all the way past the elementary school.

"I don't think it's far enough," said Jerome Colley. "It is a step in the right direction, 3 1/2 years too late for me, but it is a step in the right direction."

For Colley, any improvements to Highway 160 are too late for his wife Kimmy, who was killed on the road last September.

"About a mile from where we are right now she was hit head-on, and died approximately 13 days later from injuries stemming from the accident," Colley said.

Colley is glad to see ALDOT's, but he worries it's not enough.

"They still haven't addressed traffic lights for speed management, and honestly I just believe all they're gonna do is make a racetrack between I-65 and Graves Gap Road."

"I've lived there my whole life, but the road is so dangerous when I pull out I'm in one of the worst curves on 160," said Jo Young, one of the 30 or so homeowners who will be forced to move because of the widening project. "And I had rather move than endanger me and my grandchildren, children, their friends, and the rest of the family members' lives."

Young says most of the landowners she's talked to feel the same way she does.

"Where I live, my dad built that house and I bought it from him, there's feelings there, but it's to the point where it's so dangerous I'm just ready to go."

Parents and teachers at the elementary and middle schools are worried the new road will take out a lot of the front yards of their schools, but ALDOT officials are working with the schools to try and minimize the impact.

"We go into a process like this with a goal of providing a safe product at the end and also going through it to protect the environment," said ALDOT spokesman Tony Harris.

The state could begin buying property early next year and start construction a year to 18 months after that.

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