A proposed $24-million project to improve vehicle traffic flow in the Glenfield area drew strong interest at the July 2 meeting of the New Albany Board of Aldermen.
Mike Waters, a civil engineer with the Tupelo firm A2H Architects and Engineers, said the Glenfield area project would include a bridge spanning both Highway 178 West and the BNSF railroad tracks. A2H proposes to build a 4,100 foot long new road, including a 2,700-foot long bridge, to deliver traffic from Sam T. Barkley Drive to existing Munsford Drive.
The net result would be that vehicle traffic could eventually travel from Highway 15 on the northeast side of the city to Interstate 22 on the northwest side of town without encountering a stop at a traffic light.
Waters said that some money may be available from the BUILD Grant program, administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation, that could finance the Glenfield project. He said the deadline for applying for the BUILD Grants is July 15.
If it were built, the proposed new roadway might relieve several traffic congestion problems around the city. It would ultimately create a western “bypass” around New Albany.
- Among the most pressing current problems is the intersection of Sam T. Barkley Drive and Highway 178 West. Traffic at that intersection is interrupted more than 20 times daily by trains of the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad. (BNSF). There is also a four-way stoplight system at the intersection. Additionally, the intersection of the two roads is a “dog-leg” shape, which further confuses and impedes traffic flow.
Several hundred people work in factories east of that intersection. At high traffic periods, factory workers and residents who need to get through that intersection may have to wait many minutes for the railroad traffic and street traffic to clear. Under the A2H proposal, those vehicles could go directly to Interstate 22 (I-22).
- More than 20,000 vehicles a day travel past New Albany on Interstate 22. Those who are bound toward Ripley and other destinations north into Tennessee must negotiate numerous traffic lights on northbound Highway 15. The new road would allow truck and automobile traffic from I-22 to exit at Glenfield and enter Highway 15 a few miles north of the city, without encountering a traffic light. Thus, the new route could relieve problems with in-city traffic, especially trailer trucks, on Highway 15.
- The heavy traffic congestion at the intersection of Highway 30 and I-22 might enjoy some relief. While traffic to and from Oxford on Highway 30 already has the option of taking the four-lane Munsford Drive to I-22, Munsford Drive now dead ends at Highway 78. With the proposed new route, traffic could conveniently continue east from Highway 78 to Highway 15 north. Thereby, those vehicles would avoid the far-too-busy Highway 30-Interstate 22 intersection.
There are many “ifs” in the proposal, the largest one being whether the federal government will agree to furnish the $24-million.
The proposed new route would involve construction of 4,100 feet — .78 miles — of new roadway, of which 2,700 feet would be a bridge crossing Highway 78 and the BNSF tracks. The bridge would pass over existing residential areas, and residents might object. Problems with acquisition of right-of-way could occur.
Waters said that Sam T. Barkley Drive would “eventually need to be widened to four lanes.” Questioned by an NAnewsweb.com reporter after his presentation, Waters said the new 2,700 foot bridge would be only two lanes wide. Could the bridge be widened to four lanes? The answer to that question essentially was, “We hope so.”
The proposal was initiated by the Union County Development Association (UCDA), which is working with A2H.
The city board agreed at its July 2 meeting to furnish $6,000 in funding for professional services, if the federal government comes through with the $24-million BUILD Grant.
Another common complication of Glenfield area traffic: BNSF closes crossing