Construction on the final 3.7 miles of the long-awaited parkway was set to start in January. However, though it is now February, activity has been nonexistent at the site — the latest in a long string of delays.
DeJarvis Leonard, division engineer for the Alabama Department of Transportation, said the project contractor, Gadsden-based McCartney Construction, has been delayed due to inclement weather. During a special groundbreaking ceremony in December, Leonard said work was expected to begin in January on the $12.2 million project.
"We haven't yet had a chance to get an update on it from McCartney, but I anticipate work will now start in February," Leonard said.
Attempts to reach McCartney Construction on Monday and Tuesday for comment were unsuccessful.
Leonard said the project is still scheduled for completion in the summer of 2015, despite the recent delay.
The 7-mile-long parkway has been under construction for more than 10 years at a total cost of about $150 million. The parkway begins in Oxford at Interstate 20 and travels north through southeastern Anniston to McClellan and finally to U.S. 431 north of downtown.
Leonard said the work that will kick off the project includes building drainage culverts near the parkway, construction that requires relatively warm weather to complete.
"When you're building culverts, you've got to get in those streams and redirect them ... you can't do that when it's below freezing," Leonard said. "There needs to be several days of above-freezing temperatures."
Phil Webb, chairman of the McClellan Development Authority, which oversees development of the former fort, said the completion of the parkway will help his organization do its job of bringing more industry to the site.
"It will be extremely helpful in helping us do what we need to do," Webb said.
Webb, who owns Webb Concrete and Building Materials in Oxford, said he was not concerned about the latest delay on the project.
"You cannot do the construction projects they do in this kind of weather," Webb said. "It'll be caught up when they get some good weather."
Don Hopper, executive director of the Calhoun County Economic Development Council, said he also was unconcerned about the recent delay.
"There are things that are beyond their control," Hopper said of construction crews.
Hopper said his organization is still touting the parkway as reason for industries to locate to the area.
"Transportation is always one of the top things a company is looking for when it's looking to serve its markets," Hopper said. "Once completed, it will be another arrow in our quiver to shoot at industry."
Other projects announced
Meanwhile, ALDOT last week announced two multi-million-dollar road resurfacing projects in Talladega and Cleburne counties.
The Cleburne project, with an estimated price tag of between $2.3 million and $2.8 million, calls for the resurfacing of about 10 miles of road, beginning on Alabama 46 from County Road 620 to the Georgia state line.
"It's a basic resurfacing project," Leonard said. "After so many years, you have to do resurfacing."
The project also includes widening the road shoulder by 2 feet and adding rumble strips on the edges to improve safety by keeping motorists from driving off the roadway, Leonard said.
The estimated $1.8 million to $2.2 million Talladega project calls for resurfacing 3.3 miles of roadway starting at U.S. 78 just west of County Road 207 to just east of Alabama 77 in Lincoln.
"That's the section of road that goes through Lincoln by the Honda plant," Leonard said. "It's been 10 years since we resurfaced it, and it’s starting to oxidize, so with the volume of traffic on that road, we thought it was an excellent candidate for resurfacing."
Both projects are scheduled for completion in the summer.
Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.