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Alabama County Sees Progress On One of Its Largest Road Projects in Tuscaloosa

Tue February 20, 2024 - Southeast Edition #5
WVTM-TV


The extension of McWright's Ferry Road, which got under way last July, will connect Rice Mine Road to the new Watermelon Road, creating a bridge across the North River.
Photo courtesy of the City of Tuscaloosa, Ala.
The extension of McWright's Ferry Road, which got under way last July, will connect Rice Mine Road to the new Watermelon Road, creating a bridge across the North River.

The city of Tuscaloosa, Ala., is looking to ease travel times for local drivers by spending millions of dollars on the McWright's Ferry Road Extension project.

One of the largest construction efforts to ever take place within Tuscaloosa County, the extension of McWright's Ferry Road, which got under way last July, will connect Rice Mine Road to the new Watermelon Road, creating a bridge across the North River.

Additionally, the project includes a pedestrian bridge over the river and a shared-use path which will ultimately connect to Tuscaloosa's Northern Riverwalk.

It also is expected to reduce commute times for those traveling in and out of the area and create additional access for first responders in emergencies.

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox told WVTM-TV in Birmingham that the road project is long overdue for many residents.

"Right now, in Tuscaloosa, there's only one access across the North River," he explained. "Whenever there is construction or improvements, it requires people to go 45 minutes around just to detour, so [the extension] gives us another access point across the North River."

Maddox continued by telling WVTM-TV, "There are going to be traffic issues. There's also going to be the unexpected. There's going to be a water line that is going to get hit. There's going to be a transmission pole that could get damaged. There's going to be something that happens when you have a project [of] this scope and scale. What we want to do as a city is make sure we have real-time information if something is going to truly impact their commute."

With an expanding population of more than 110,000 citizens, it became increasingly important for Tuscaloosa city officials over the last several years to begin formulating plans to help sustain the current and future growth of the college town, home to the University of Alabama.

According to the city's website, McWright's Ferry Road "stands as a prime example of our commitment to building the foundation for tomorrow."

Roadway's Extension Should Be Finished By Fall 2025

The comprehensive building effort not only aims to enhance emergency response, create safer and reduced commutes, but "unlock new avenues for future expansion."

Funding for the addition to McWright's Ferry Road came from the Tuscaloosa County Road Improvement Commission (TCRIC).

By Jan. 11, the project's contractor had moved 60 percent of the required material at the site, installed girders on three of the seven spans for the vehicle bridge, and laid asphalt on around 2,000 ft. of new roadway.

In addition, blasting and earthwork continued between Alabama Highway 297 and the North River and in the new section of the roadway south of Ala. 297.

In early February, Tuscaloosa noted that a substantial portion of the cut and fill is complete on the new portion of the road between North River and Oak Glen. Crews are also making headway on building the McWright's Ferry Road bridge over the waterway, and the truss span of the pedestrian bridge over the river had been set.

More than 1,600 ft. of new sanitary sewer lines have been installed, as well.

Beginning in March, plans call for a vehicle lane closure on Ala. 297 as well as a lane shift on Rice Mine Road which may cause traffic delays, both of which are related to the Ala. 297/Rice Mine Road intersection improvements, the city noted.

Periodic lane closures also will begin on the east side of McWright's Ferry Road for water and sanitary sewer installation.

The McWright's Ferry Road Expansion project is expected to be completed by the fall of 2025.

For text message updates on the progress of the McWright's Ferry Road Extension Project, text MCWRIGHT to 888777




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