Former highways now city streets

Published 11:59 pm Monday, October 19, 2009

At Monday’s meeting of the Opp City Council, the city officially took ownership of the portions of Hwy. 84 and Hwy. 331 within the city limits and inside the Opp bypass (State Route 299).

Under the resolution approving the transfer, the city will take over all responsibilities for the maintenance and upkeep of approximately 10 miles of roads formerly maintained by the state’s Department of Transportation (DOT).

“Now that the bypass is completed, the state has asked us to take ownership of these highways,” Opp Mayor H.D. Edgar said. “It is a burden to the city, but it also gives us the right to do some things to these highways that previously would have required the state’s approval.”

Edgar said the city does not “really have a choice” in the matter, but does not expect the cost of keeping up the roads to be too expensive. He said both highways have been resurfaced within the last five years, and should last even longer now that heavy truck traffic is no longer allowed within the Opp city limits.

In addition, the city is also taking ownership of a right-of-way located on the east side of U.S. Hwy. 331, just north of the south junction of U.S. Hwy. 331 and the Opp bypass. Edgar said it is possible the acreage could be used in the future for an access road or railroad track that could be utilized by the industrial park.

As a result of the transfer, the state DOT will be responsible for removing all signage currently designating the roads as state highways. Also, in the event that the state DOT determines the roads are again needed “for the safe and proper operation of the state highway system,” then the ownership will revert back to the state.

It is not immediately known what the roads will now be named; however most of the previous U.S. highways also had local names — U.S. Hwy. 84 encompassed West Cumming Avenue, South Main Street and East Stewart Avenue, and U.S. Hwy. 331 encompassed parts of Florala Highway, East Cumming Avenue and both South and North Main Street.

In other business, the council:

Approved City Planner Don Childre’s recommendation concerning a property located at the southwest corner of the intersection of Hart Avenue and Geneva Street and owned by Hinton Elmore. The building, which is a public nuisance, must be either brought up to code or demolished by the owner within 30 days; if it is not, the city will demolish the building and the costs will be assessed to the owner’s property taxes.

City Attorney Wesley Laird said the owner has the right to appeal before the council within the 30-day deadline.

Appointed David Baker as city judge and Bart Boothe as the back-up, effective Nov. 1, 2009. Baker will replace Julie Moody, who recently resigned.