Planned road could be path to more jobs at McClellan
by Daniel Gaddy
dgaddy@annistonstar.com
Dec 16, 2012 | 5576 views |  0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Crews recently cleared the path for a planned road to connect Iron Mountain Road to Alabama 21 north of Lenlock. It's hoped the road will help draw industry to McClellan.
Crews recently cleared the path for a planned road to connect Iron Mountain Road to Alabama 21 north of Lenlock. It's hoped the road will help draw industry to McClellan.
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Officials with the McClellan Development Authority hope a planned new road will entice manufacturers to consider a move to the old fort.

Crews recently clear-cut the right-of-way for nearly two miles of planned road to connect an industrial park at McClellan with Alabama 21 north of Lenlock.

The path was cleared in hopes that the city of Anniston will receive $4 million from a statewide roads program. Kevin Ashley, a city engineer for Anniston, said city leaders will know Jan. 24 if they will receive the grant.

MDA Executive Director Robin Scott said his agency has hired a company that has completed 30 percent of the diagrams needed to start construction of the project. The company remains on standby, ready to finish the documents once the funding is secured.

"We anxiously await the outcome," Scott said.

The grant is part of the Alabama Transportation and Rehabilitation Improvement Program, or ATRIP. Through the three-phase initiative, nearly $1 billion will be allocated to roadway projects throughout the state. In the second phase alone, the city of Anniston and the Calhoun County Commission are each applying for more than $10 million in roadway projects.

According to an ALDOT letter sent to mayors and county commission chairs throughout Alabama, projects taking top priority for ATRIP funding will be those that better connect communities, make routes safer or promote economic development.

ATRIP’s funding comes from a type of financing called Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles, in which states can pay for bonds using anticipated federal funding. Like most ATRIP programs, the city of Anniston will have to provide matching funds to be eligible for the grant — $1.3 million in this case.

If approved, the money will pay to extend Iron Mountain Road to reach Alabama 21. Iron Mountain Road connects with Veterans Memorial Parkway to provide a route to Interstate 20 from the industrial park.

Iron Mountain Road opened in 2010, and Scott said about 4,000 vehicles already travel on it each day. However, the extension to Alabama 21 at the northern extreme of Anniston’s city limits will give quick and easy access to major roadways both north and south of the industrial park. Scott said that access is important in attracting more industry to the area.

“This is a big plus for companies,” Scott said. “It’s critical for businesses to be able to move their products.”

Anniston City Planner Toby Bennington said the access road will not only make the area appealing to industrial companies but to developers looking to set up commercial properties and residential real estate, too. The key benefit to the area, he said, will be more jobs.

Bennington said the access road will also give city leaders an opportunity to work with officials from the Alabama Department of Commerce and market the industrial park to suppliers of major manufacturers in the state like the Airbus plant in Mobile.

Local officials believe that once the ATRIP funding is in place, construction crews could complete the extension of Iron Mountain Road in two years.

Assistant Metro Editor Daniel Gaddy: 256-235-3560. On Twitter @DGaddy_Star.

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