New stretch of Alabama 24 opensPublished 6:05am Saturday, May 11, 2013
RED BAY – The wait has been long enough for some, but most will tell you – it’s been worth it.
The western section of Alabama 24 in Franklin County opened to traffic this week, which over time, should make the drive between Russellville and Red Bay a little shorter.
“It’s nice and it really will be once it’s all complete and the speed limits are increased,” said Russellville resident Elliott Gordon, who makes the trip from his Russellville home to Sunshine Mills in Red Bay each day.
“It will be quicker once it’s all complete, it just seems like it has taken an abnormally long time to complete.”
The new section will now take motorists west of downtown Red Bay, whereas the former highway ran through that section of town.
The nearly 14-mile section is the second phase of the Alabama 24 four-lane project, also known as Corridor V. The first phase was from U.S. 43 in Russellville to near Belgreen.
The new section of highway stretches from Franklin 21 to the Mississippi state line. Now that the western section has opened, officials said bids will be let on the third and final phase, which will run from Belgreen to Franklin 21.
Once that section is completed, Alabama 24 will be a four-lane highway from Decatur to the Mississippi state line.
“We expect this to be a valuable asset to all of Franklin County,” Probate Judge Barry Moore said.
“It will make the commute quicker and safer for motorists traveling from the east to west end of Franklin County and it could be another tool in economic recruitment and development.”
Officials said the move between roads went smoothly Wednesday, with reports of one minor wreck.
Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver said he watched traffic making the transition for an extended period of time Wednesday and believes things went well.
“There are plenty of signs there at the crossover and hopefully, motorists will pay attention, and there won’t be any problems,” Oliver said.
“Motorists will just need to be aware and use extra caution until everyone is used to it.”
Red Bay Mayor Bobby Forsythe said the overall transition has been smooth, but there have been some hiccups.
“We have detours all over town so we are all having to make some adjustments, but it is a welcome sign that progress is being made,” Forsythe said.
“Usually, when you move traffic from one section of highway to another, you have problems. Thankfully, everything went well Wednesday and we hope it remains that way.”
Forsythe said the pains of change will be well worth it once the entire project is complete.
“Right now it has a strange feeling to it because it’s different, but it’s going to be good for Red Bay and this entire area.”