It’s no secret that work on the second half of the parkway has stalled in recent months. The progress that bore the completion and opening of the first half is now far in the past. Today, drivers in and around McClellan and the U.S. 431-Alabama 21 interchange are well aware that months and months of work remain unfinished.
We’ll say it for ourselves, and for everyone else: patience, patience, patience.
Those reminders for composure don’t lessen the disappointment that’s arisen from the Alabama Department of Transportation’s problem with the project’s previous contractor, L & T Construction. ALDOT declared that company in default and hired another firm, W.G. Yates Construction of Mississippi, to take over the job.
An ALDOT spokesman told The Star last week that he expects the courts may have to settle the disagreement between the state and L & T. ALDOT disputes the construction firm’s claim that project delays were caused by design flaws.
Our concern isn’t that disagreement — or who ultimately prevails should it go before a court. Instead, it’s about a rapid and consistent effort on the parkway’s unfinished portions, which are sizeable. Calhoun Countians want to see progress in this much-anticipated project.
Blame it on the opening of the parkway’s first half. In the less than two years since it was unveiled, the parkway has improved travel in and out of McClellan and its surrounding areas. Admittedly, meandering along the single-lane Iron Mountain and Bains Gap roads can get old — but it’s still light years better for travelers who have long had to deal with Quintard Avenue’s red lights and traffic.
Opening the southern portion of the project has merely stoked the anticipation for getting the parkway completed. We can only imagine what having the seven-mile, limited-access road open from McClellan to Interstate 20 will mean for daily commutes and McClellan development. Even Oxford will have much to gain, considering how easier it will be for residents in the county’s northern half to get to Oxford Exchange and the city’s array of restaurants.
This month, Anniston has opened its new aquatics and fitness center at McClellan. That $4.5 million facility is a gem that only strengthens Anniston’s livability and — here’s the kicker — proves yet again the importance of smartly redeveloping the former Army post.
The few miles of the parkway that are open simplify access to the new aquatic and fitness center for those traveling north. The road is already doing its job. Now it’s time to get moving on the unfinished part. But, patience, patience, patience.