The Opelika City Council approved at its meeting Tuesday night a resolution approving a federal grant submission to receive funds for the construction of an extension to Veterans Parkway.
The grant application will request funds from the United States Department of Transportation’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity program and, if approved, would provide over $5.7 million to the city of Opelika for the infrastructure project.
“They are very competitive grants and this is the second time we’ve applied for this project,” City Engineer Scott Parker said.
The city would be responsible for providing about $1.5 million as a match for the project, with the money to come from the city’s unassigned fund balance, according to the resolution. The funding from the 20/80 match between the city and federal government would be able to pay for the construction of the three-lane road and engineering of the project.
Mayor Gary Fuller said the city has been looking at the street extension for several years in an attempt to better connect the major thoroughfares of Opelika and provide traffic relief to U.S. Highway 280 and Pepperell Parkway.
“One of our goals is to improve transportation within the city, to help folks move from point A to point B,” Fuller said. “Some of our corridors are heavily traveled, and we’re trying to get some new routes to move some of that traffic off of Pepperell Parkway and Second Avenue. This is something we think could be a big benefit to our folks.”
The project would extend Veterans Parkway about a mile and a quarter south past Pepperell Parkway to connect to Cunningham Drive, and Fuller said the city is also wanting the extension to coincide with a new road to connect Cunningham Drive to Gateway Drive as well.
Fuller said if the grant isn’t given by the Department of Transportation, the city would still search for ways to fund the new road because of the benefits it could have for the Opelika community.
“The biggest advantage is to be able to move people from one place to another, whether it be for shopping, for work or for their homes,” Fuller said. “It also opens up additional property for development along this new road, and some of this property can’t be developed at the moment because there’s no road access to it. … We need to open up more areas for development whether it be commercial or residential.”
There is no clear timeline as to when the Department of Transportation will make a decision or when construction on the Veterans Parkway Extension will begin.
“Hopefully we get the grant,” Fuller said. “We think it’s solid; we made the correct arguments for it and for the benefits to our citizens.”