Council moves U.S. 43 truck route

A transfer truck turns left off of Walnut Street onto West Capital Street by the downtown branch of Robertson Bank. Thursday's city council vote will keep big rigs off of West Capital Street, instead forcing truck drivers to take their left turn onto Fulton Street before taking a right onto Cedar Avenue and following it to U.S. Highway 80.

A transfer truck turns left off of Walnut Street onto West Capital Street by the downtown branch of Robertson Bank. Thursday’s city council vote will keep big rigs off of West Capital Street, instead forcing truck drivers to take their left turn onto Fulton Street before taking a right onto Cedar Avenue and following it to U.S. Highway 80.

The first Demopolis City Council meeting of the summer focused largely on streets Thursday evening. The most impactful vote of the evening was the passing of Resolution 2013-13, a measure that shifts the U.S. Highway 43 truck route back to its previous path.

Prior to the vote, transfer trucks traveling south on 43 were required to take a left on Capital Street next to the post office before hanging a right onto Cedar Avenue and emptying out onto U.S. Highway 80.

Thursday’s resolution shifts the route back to its previous path that will see trucks take Fulton Street to Cedar Avenue before emptying onto 80.

“Just to give you a little background, that is a street that was not necessarily constructed for heavy traffic,” Demopolis Mayor Mike Grayson told the council, explaining much of the reason for the previous change. “When the big 18-wheelers would stop at Fulton and make those turns, those big heavy trucks were just churning that concrete.”

The resolution came at the behest of the Alabama Department of Transportation, which vowed to account for the maintenance on Fulton Street were the measure to pass.

“What they are saying here is that they are recommending that they will do the maintenance on this. That is the significant change going forward,” Grayson said before pointing to the current route at the intersection of Capital and Cedar. “Also, this is a very treacherous corner right here. Just in the last few years, there have been a couple of accidents here.”

Councilman Charles Jones offered up one concern regarding the change but later voted in favor of the measure.

“There is concern that you are actually taking a truck route and putting in a residential neighborhood,” Jones said. “I was pro moving it back, but after walking my district, I see the potential danger there.”

Speaking to that concern, Councilman Bill Meador observed the heavy traffic area along Capital Street as offering its own dangers should it remain a truck route.

“You’re putting more people in the line that way, in my view, than you would to move it back to the way it was,” Meador said. The council unanimously passed the resolution.

Other business saw the council vote to change the name of Kaufman Drive to Abe Brown Court at the request of Tarlee Brown.

Brown also asked the council to change Elmore Drive to South Ash Street. Jones referenced one individual who lives on the street that is currently against such a change.

At the suggestion of Meador, Brown agreed to meet with that individual in an effort to reach an agreement.

Meador introduced the idea of naming a currently unnamed street in the Demopolis South Industrial Park to honor Buddy Griffith. That idea will be revisited at a later date as the council consults with businesses located on the street to get their feedback on the potential change.

Demopolis Chamber of Commerce Director Jennifer Tate received from the council official approval for this year’s Freedom on the River event as well as the first Highway 80 Songwriters Festival.

“We’re also going to have a songwriter festival. It will be July 6 after the Fourth of July celebration,” Tate told the council. “We’re requesting to use the downtown park and the parking lot behind The Mustard Seed. We’re also requesting that nobody park back behind there and to make sure that public square restrooms are clean and stocked.”

This year’s Freedom on the River will include a local barbecue cook-off to be held at George Franks Field in addition to it other events.

Grayson reported that last week’s visit from Senator Jeff Sessions produced renewed enthusiasm for the city’s ongoing port project.

“We went to the port and Senator Sessions was greatly enthused and impressed by our project,” Grayson said.

The mayor also reported significant progress on the paving of Sunset Road.

The council voted to move its first July meeting from its originally-scheduled July 4 date to Monday, July 1 in view of Independence Day.