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Underwood Road re-opens to traffic

Residents who lived east of the bridge work being completed on Underwood Road near Marshall Drive in Russellville received good news Thursday afternoon as crews finished up repairs on the bridge and officially re-opened the road about 3 p.m.
The project was mainly a bridge-widening project that took the bridge from its former width of 19 ft. to 24 ft., which Russellville councilman and county highway engineer David Palmer said was more acceptable.
“This was definitely a safety issue, not because the bridge had any structural faults but because it was so narrow,” Palmer said.
“The bridge was in good shape, it just needed to be widened to a standard width.”
Palmer said the bridge-widening project is something that would hopefully help the city and county apply for and jointly receive funds from from the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program for a resurfacing project that covers all of Underwood Road.
“This bridge was within the city limits, but once it goes beyond the city limits, Underwood Road is a county road,” he said.
“We hope to get the entire road resurfaced soon with ATRIP funds and having this bridge project already completed will help with that.”
District 3 councilman Gary Cummings said this has been a major project that involved many different people and departments to get it completed.
“Everyone has pitched in and done their part to make this project a success,” Cummings said.
“The work was completed thanks to Ron Riley with Riley Bridge Co., who went above and beyond what was asked of him on this project, and crew from the city and county,” Cummings said.
“The utility departments have all been a tremendous help doing whatever was needed of them, and I appreciate the work the street department put in and the support the mayor and council gave this project.
“When I ran four years ago, I had three major projects I wanted to complete in my district, including widening this bridge. This was the last of those three projects to be completed, so this is a great day for District 3.”
Cummings said even though they completed the bridge work three days behind schedule, they were able to come out almost $30,000 under budget.
“We’re glad we were able to come under budget with this project and use the tax payer’s money wisely,” Mayor David Grissom said.
“It all goes back to effective teamwork and working together to achieve a common goal. So many different departments worked together to make this project happen and I appreciate everyone’s hard work.”
District 5 councilman Jamie Harris agreed.
“I know the people of District 3 are happy to have this project finally completed and to have a safer road to drive on,” Harris said.
“Everyone involved has put in a lot of long, hard hours to make this a reality and that hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed.”
Cummings said another thing that hasn’t gone unnoticed is the patience the residents in the affected area have had the past three weeks.
Many residents in District 3 have been rerouted to avoid the construction since it began March 25 – taking alternate routes that took them several miles out of the way.
“I know it hasn’t been easy to be rerouted every time they’ve needed to get to town, but they have been supportive of this project and we thank them for that,” Cummings said.
“We’ve even had resident come out to offer the crews something to drink or to go get food. It shows that the city departments and crews weren’t the only ones pitching in – it was a team effort all the way from the mayor and council to the residents.”
Some say the construction has definitely been an inconvenience but one that was needed, according to District 3 constituent Jimmy Montgomery.
“I want to thank the city for fixing this road,” Jimmy Montgomery said.
“This is something that has needed to be done for years because it has been such a danger area. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to just stop when I got to this bridge and let another car pass because it was going to be too tight of a fit for us both to be on the bridge at the same time, especially if it was a bigger vehicle or truck.”
Jolene Stockton agreed that the bridge-widening project was important to the area.
“It was worth the wait to have this fixed,” Stockton said.
Sandy Montgomery said she wanted to thank Cummings specifically for the hands-on approach he took on the project.
“I have seen Gary out here just about every day working with the crew like he was one of the workers and I appreciate him taking such an interest in this project and in our safety,” Sandy Montgomery said.
“It’s good to know we have people working for us who are willing to literally get out there and work.”