JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - Improving roads will be a top priority for Jefferson County in 2017.
If you travel on Brooklane Drive in Hueytown you will see a lot of road work underway to expand the two-lane highway. One nearby businessman says the area needs help.
"Well in the mornings you would have school traffic. People to and fro from work. It got really bad," said Johnny Nelson, who owns Glenn TV and Electronics.
Two years ago Jefferson County worked on 110 miles of roads but last year it d ropped to 63 miles because of the lack of money and staff.
The people who travel up and down Brooklane Drive certainly all of this construction is a headache but County Manager Tony Petelos hopes to have even more people for roads and transportation department so he can get more projects underway and completed for the coming year.
"It's very optimistic because we are so short staffed. We are getting there. We are getting better. This year will see a lot of people hired by roads and transportation," Petelos said.
Before bankruptcy, Jefferson County had 500 people in the roads and transportation department. Since then, it has d ropped under 200 staffers. Petelos hopes to hire more than 100 this year to bring the staff up to about 320.
Another big project the county hopes to tackle is along Morgan Road. It's the main way for many people to get to I-459 and during morning and afternoon rush hour it's not easy.
"We to leave our house probably an hour to 45 minutes before we have to be somewhere. You would sit in traffic with the light changes," Hannah Jane Sizemore said.
Jefferson County Commission President Jimmie Stephens says the county has had a plan for years to expand the two-lane highway to five lanes from I-459 down to Shades Crest.
"We want to get that on the front burner because there is 20,000 cars a day on that road. It's a two-lane highway. Sometimes you have backup for miles and miles," Stephens said.
Stephens said right of ways are being purchased for the expansion and utilities will be moved. The Alabama Department of Transportation is working with the county on the project and those involved hope the lane expansion work will start soon.
The people living off of Morgan Road are hoping for an expanded roadway will make that drive a lot easier.
"I think so. You are not going to be in so much of a rush anymore. I hope it works out," Sizemore said.
Stephens said improving roads is critical to luring more people to live in Jefferson County.
"You have to a safe way to travel to and from work," Stephens said.
The county also hopes to make improvements along Sicard Hollow Road, and county roads within Center Point and Bessemer city limits.