By Rick Watson
The mixing bowl where Interstates 65, 20 and 59 merge has long been called “malfunction junction,” but Homewood has a challenging intersection of its own: West Oxmoor Road at I-65 is often known as “the turkey’s foot” — and a few other choice names we can’t print in a family newspaper.
The problem is that when travelers exit from I-65 south onto Oxmoor Road and head west, the road becomes confusing and sometimes dangerous. The intersection has been on the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) list for improvement for years, but a lack of funding kept the project on the back burner.
Recently the city obtained a commitment from the federal government to match funds to pay 80 percent of the tab for the project, leaving the city to come up with the remaining 20 percent. The total price tag will depend on the total scope of the project, but the last estimate available to the city was for $5 million — making Homewood’s estimated portion $1 million.
The City Council authorized Mayor Scott McBrayer to notify ALDOT of the city’s intention to fund the West Oxmoor Road improvement project. “I hand delivered the letter to ALDOT, so we’re moving forward with the project,” McBrayer said.
The next step is to enter into a contract with engineers to do traffic studies, evaluate the intersection, as well as the ingress and egress on I-65.
“The engineers will do a full evaluation of this strip of road all the way from the corner of Green Springs Highway to Barber Court,” said City Councilman Vance Moody who represents West Homewood. “The engineers will rationalize patterns to keep traffic on the roads designed to handle the traffic and keep unnecessary traffic out of neighborhoods.”
The city has held public meetings to gather feedback from the community. A few businesses expressed some concern about the project, but according to Moody, most people in the area are excited to rework this section of road.
“This initial phase will be a holistic look, with community input, at traffic passing through that corridor,” Moody said.
The studies should begin within the next 60 days. The research and design work are expected to take from a year to eighteen months to complete, Moody said.
In the interim, the mayor asked the council to approve $35,000 of emergency funding to re-stripe the intersection to make it safer for travelers.
“I’m excited about the West Oxmoor project,” McBrayer said. “It’s long over due.”