A strong contingent of Dothan-area residents examined the city’s plans to make significant changes to the Honeysuckle Road corridor late Tuesday and expressed a variety of opinions.
“We like it,” said James Carr, who lives near the southern end of Honeysuckle Road. “There’s a lot of wrecks (at the Honeysuckle-Park Avenue intersection), and traffic jams up.”
City officials offered residents, especially those with property along Honeysuckle Road, a chance to see how their proposed changes to the roadway will affect rights of way and their properties in a meeting at the Westgate Recreation Center. In recent years, traffic has increased along Honeysuckle Road due to several factors like the installation of James Oates Park and several subdivisions near Dothan’s southern edge.
City contractors are designing the project in two phases. The first will expand Honeysuckle Road to five lanes between West Main and Fortner streets.
The second will realign the southern end to avoid a convoluted intersection where Honeysuckle, Hatton and Moore roads converge at South Park Avenue. After the realignment, which moves Honeysuckle’s intersection with South Park to northeast of Selma Baptist Church, crews will extend the thoroughfare to a planned roundabout at Taylor Road and Campbellton Highway.
Dothan Public Works Director Charles Metzger said residents provided plenty of feedback, almost all of it positive.
“Everybody knows the north end needs the additional lanes because of the traffic,” he said. “On the south end, everybody knows it’s just a winding process to get to Walmart and (U.S. Highway) 231 South. (The plan will) straighten that out.”
However, some residents along the first phase expressed concerns that a five-lane roadway would only increase traffic from semi-trucks and encourage speeding on an already busy street. They also said it is “impossible” to cross Honeysuckle at various times of the day.
A five-lane thoroughfare would allow traffic to spread out some and permit drivers to have more opportunities to turn left or cross Honeysuckle, Metzger said.
Because of the state Department of Transportation’s Ross Clark Circle expansion plan, city officials could opt to construct the second phase first. Metzger said his department will need to meet with City Commissioners and City Manager Kevin Cowper to determine funding for the project, which has been estimated to cost between $18 million and $21 million.
Design of the project should conclude in February, but Metzger hopes the city will begin to purchase needed rights of way in January. Rights-of-way acquisition could take more than a year to complete, he added.
Some residents are eager for the project’s completion.
“It has been a long time coming,” Carr said. “Most all of the (previous) work was done on the (north) side, and it needed it because the majority of the traffic was down there. But they’re putting a new apartment complex in front of the school (Dothan City Early Education Center) and an apartment complex (on Moore Road), so there’s a lot of additional traffic out here.”
“Hopefully they can stay ahead,” added Wallace Carr. “You’ve got to be 20 years out planning on the growth, or you never catch up.”