Jefferson County Commission

COVID Stalls Storm Shelters; JeffCo Commission Discusses Road Projects on Grants Mill, Lakeshore

Jefferson County County Manager Cal Markert (Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

COVID-19 is known to make people sluggish. It has had the same effect on some storm shelter projects in Jefferson County.

Commissioners today moved to the agenda of Thursday’s commission meeting in Bessemer a resolution to extend for 365 days a contract with Williford Orman Construction LLC to build storm shelters in Graysville, Bagley and Glenwood. These storm shelters will be paid for through the county’s general fund.

“It’s really been two things,” said Frederick L. Hamilton, director of the county’s Department of Community Services and Workforce Development, “the supply chain delay in getting materials as well as staff, some of their staff catching COVID and not being able to work at full speed because of COVID.”

A pair of road projects were also moved to Thursday’s agenda. One was a construction contract with Wright Brothers to work on Grants Mill Road from Interstate 459 to Old Leeds Road in Irondale.

“We’re four-laning it from the Mercedes (dealership) at 459 all the way back to Kilgore Memorial Highway and putting a roundabout at Kilgore Memorial Highway,” County Manager Cal Markert said. “There will be a lot of interchange/intersection work and it also includes red lights at 459. It’s gonna be a big improvement.”

The large, two-lane roundabout is expected to relieve frequent traffic snarls at that intersection.

“There’s a side road coming in right there,” Markert said, “and it makes it jam up right there.”

The Grants Mill Road is expected to take 24 months to complete. Work should begin in 60 to 90 days, Markert said.

Also moved to the agenda was a matter concerning the Lakeshore Drive extension.

“We received an industrial access grant from ALDOT (Alabama Department of Transportation) and we’re also working with ALDOT to design the extension of Lakeshore from State Route 150 farther south to tie in to Morgan Road to help us get all that industrial traffic on and off the road,” the county manager said. “Right now, traffic backs up at Morgan Road and 150.”

The plan is the combine two projects involving ALDOT and the city of Bessemer.

“We’re working on improving 150 through that area,” Markert said. “We’ll put those together and really improve that intersection. If you’re coming from 459 up Morgan Road, you’ve got to take a right on 150 and back left on Lakeshore. All of that will be a whole lot faster and smoother.”

Design work on that project is underway. “Then we’ll be looking at bidding out the construction,” he said.

Thursday’s meeting will include a public hearing and potential adoption of a resolution regarding a project development agreement with Fetch Rewards Inc.

“This is a software company that’s based out of Madison, Wisconsin,” Commissioner Steve Ammons said. “They’re planting 200 jobs here with an average wage of $80,000 a year. We’ll do our regular tier job incentive based on the level of wage that we get a return. We do it for three years and we’re capping it at $300,000.”

The business is expected to be on Second Avenue South near Railroad Park in Birmingham.