Opp plans $1M turn lane, hopes to land truck stop

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The city of Opp is one step closer to a proposed retail center project this week, as plans for a new turn lane connected to the site are almost complete.

Opp Mayor John Bartholomew said the roadwork, which would be needed to help ease traffic at the intersection of U.S.  highways 84 and 331, is nearly ready for submission to the Alabama Department of Transportation.

“We’re working with (the turn lane) right now,” Bartholomew said. “We’re are waiting for the engineering to be done, so we can take it to DOT. We are hoping to break ground the first of the year.”

Bartholomew said city officials are hoping the turn lane will prepare an approximately 23-acre tract of land on the corner of the intersection for an upcoming retail endeavor that could spell big bucks for the municipality in the near future.

Bartholomew said the city-owned land is currently being shopped around to potential occupants who might be interested in purchasing or leasing lots for commercial use.

“What we’re trying to do is create a retail center to create tax revenue for the city,” Bartholomew said. “We are looking for restaurants, gas stations, fast food and retail, and that way, people on the way to the beach can stop and purchase things.”

Bartholomew said the land sits on a prime location for travelers who want easy access to all variety of services.

“Somebody could even put in a small strip center,” he said. “There’s enough land there for everything.”

Bartholomew said, right now, the city is in talks with several parties about a possible truck stop that would span approximately five acres.

Bartholomew said that the new turn lane must be completed before work could begin on the retail portion of the site. The price tag on the new turn lane is expected to be right at $1 million, Bartholomew said.

Funds for the roadwork will come, not from grants, but directly from the city’s pocket. Funding for such projects, Bartholomew said, comes from a number of areas, including money funneled back into Opp by the utilities department. Bartholomew, who acts as the director for the utilities department, said approximately $1.5 million has been given back to the city from utilities each of the last two years.

Currently, Bartholomew said a project to add sewer lines to the northern business district of Opp is under way, and will cost the city an additional $1.5 million. That project, he added, will also encourage business growth and more tax revenue for the city.

“That part of the city has never had sewer before,” Bartholomew said. “New businesses create new revenue for the city. We’re always trying to create new revenue.”