Historic Columbus Foundation joins fight to stop Eufaula road widening project

chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.comMay 28, 2014 

Shorter Mansion in Eufaula, Ala.

The Historic Columbus Foundation has joined the fight to prevent the widening of U.S. 431 through historic downtown Eufaula.

A coalition working as Save North Eufaula Avenue, has been fighting the Alabama Department of Transportation as it develops a proposal to four-land a roughly one-mile stretch that just south of downtown.

“You’ve driven through Eufaula on your way to the beach hundreds of times — and yes, experienced traffic in the middle of downtown,” said the plea for help from Historic Columbus Executive Director Elizabeth Barker. “Did you care? Sure, for a few minutes. But, was it enough to make a drastic change for this historic town?”

Barker asked the nearly 2,000 Historic Columbus members to sign an online petition for Save North Eufaula Avenue.

“We appreciate the help,” said Doug Purcell, the coordinator of the advocacy group.

To date, more than 3,200 people have signed the petition, said Purcell, the retired director of the Historic Chattahoochee Commission, a 17-county agency that works in Alabama and Georgia.

Barker, who worked in Eufaula for the Alabama Historical Commission early in her career, said it was a natural alliance for Historic Columbus to assist the Eufaula group.

“We are all so familiar with Eufaula,” Barker said of the Alabama town than is 40-miles south of Columbus. “We felt like our people needed to be aware of what is going on down there.”

Alabama Transportation Director John W. Cooper in a letter to Eufaula Mayor Jack Tibbs outlined the scope of the work now being done in Eufaula.

“At this time, any project to widen U.S. 431 in Eufaula is limited to discussion,” Cooper wrote. “ALDOT has made no effort to develop any project along U.S. 431 in Eufaula.”

With a bypass deemed too costly, ALDOT staked the median along North Eufaula Avenue in April. The stakes marked how much of the median in Historic District would be lost to widen the road to four lanes.

That started a firestorm and generated the opposition group, which has fought against previous plans to widen the road, which is the home to some of the state’s most historic homes.

The ALDOT study is expected to continue through Labor Day.

Save North Eufaula Avenue has also sought outside legal counsel, Purcell said.

The petition can be found at change.org

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