Dothan City officials are seeking public feedback for an alternative road design that will extend Honeysuckle Road to the intersection of Taylor Road and Campbellton Highway.
In November 2019, the public was originally presented a simple two-lane concept for extending Honeysuckle from South Park to Taylor and Campbellton, where Houston County plans to construct a roundabout.
Now, the city is considering a new “boulevard-style” design that could accommodate future growth, but would add an estimated $4.5 million cost to the project.
“We have the opportunity to invest in infrastructure to generate economic activity,” City Manager Kevin Cowper said. “The boulevard concept would produce a nice appearing road and better functioning road by limiting access to and from it.”
Cowper originally initiated the department to take another look at a design that would be more aesthetically pleasing and functional in the longterm.
The continuation of the major road project connecting Dothan’s west and south sides was the main topic of discussion among city commissioners and officials at a recent budget meeting.
All expressed eagerness to move forward with the project, but noted that a conceptual design must be brought before the public again before rights-of-way can be purchased from landowners.
“It’s a much-needed project. It’s a new route to alleviate traffic on the (Ross Clark) Circle,” Cowper said. “It’s a new road section, which presents an opportunity for continued economic development on that side of town.”
The road could also act as a local bypass to get to the National Peanut Festival, Public Works Director Charles Metzger said.
Commissioners and Mayor Mark Saliba suggested the road outlined in the new design could have positive implications, like bringing in commercial and residential development in the area, which is currently largely zoned and used for agriculture.
“We don’t build many roads, so I want to do it right,” Saliba said.
Metzger said it would be cost-effective to go with the enhanced concept now, rather than trying to add it in the future.
“I’d hate to make a short-sighted decision based on a few million dollars that later on we would regret because of growth, because of traffic, and I don’t think we could come back in and do what we’re proposing for anything less than $4.5 million. In fact, it would probably be significantly more,” Commissioner Beth Kenward said.
Commissioner Albert Kirkland also spoke positively about the new design, which he believes will help with ongoing growth near Southeast Health and Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine on East Main Street and allow Dothan to utilize existing infrastructure nearby.
The new conceptual design includes a raised 22-foot medians with grassy islands, two 12-foot lanes, and 10-foot multi-use trails on either side. This design would require 120 feet of right-of-way — the same amount as the original option, according to Metzger.
Commissioners David Crutchfield and John Ferguson were hesitant to embrace the concept, worried about how landowners in the area would feel about the new design.
The second phase of the project is at a standstill until officials can get public input.
Currently, the city is considering using Selma Baptist Church to host a public meeting on June 23, 24, or 25 to hear community input, particularly from property owners nearby the planned road development. Once a date is final, the city will send out notices.
If the community favors the new design, the total cost of the project could rise from $25.7 million to around $30 million, which will likely be mostly funded with bonds.
Metzger noted the first phase of the Honeysuckle Road corridor project, which includes expanding a portion from three lanes to five from West Main to Fortner, is 90% complete with design, adding that his initial estimate for completion of the project in its entirety would be toward the end of 2023.
In the immediate area, Houston County is waiting for CenturyLink to move its utilities so that it can construct a planned roundabout at the intersection of South Park and Taylor roads, Metzger said.