Abigail Harrison, News Editor
Citizens of Jacksonville will soon be able to drive smoothly as construction on Church Avenue comes to an end.
The construction has been a major topic of conversation as members of the community have voiced their frustrations about their daily commute times being affected by traffic jams.
The majority of the traffic problems in the city were seen heavily around areas of campus near Church Avenue, such as Stone Center and Houston Cole Library. However, other parts of town were impacted, too.
The project to repave Church Avenue has been in the works for months. Though it caused several students and other members of the community stress during the first couple weeks of the semester, Jacksonville Mayor, Johnny L. Smith, wants the community to know the construction was necessary and will benefit the town.
“The street was getting in pretty bad shape. That’s a bypass for a lot of people coming into town, so we try to keep it in as good of repair as possible,” Smith stated.
The construction was also a great opportunity for the city. The project was funded through the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), which offers cities federal money through The Alabama Department of Transportation. The 1.7 million dollar project would not have been possible without the MPO funding 80% of the total costs.
The main inconvenience was the construction near campus falling at the same time classes started back at JSU. However, Smith wants students to know they are not alone in their frustrations. The project was supposed to be finished before the beginning of the semester, but they ran into problems that put them a month behind schedule.
“I was frustrated about the timing of construction as well,” Smith said. “The contractor ran into difficulty with all the rain, and then they had several intersections and sidewalk concrete work that they ended up having to do over because it didn’t meet the handicap requirements.”
Construction may be finished around campus, but this does not necessarily mean that traffic is going to clear up completely. The JSU Police Department will continue to patrol vehicular and pedestrian traffic in the problem areas on campus. Students can read the road safety tips issued by the Department of Public Safety to find more information about how to safely travel around campus.
Michael Barton, Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police, encourages students to “pay attention to those tips, walk when possible, ride bikes when possible, use jsuRIDE when possible, and really plan out their days.”
Many people have also suggested that the city add more traffic lights around town to help control traffic, but those decisions must be approved by The Alabama Department of Transportation.
“That’s out of our control because that is on a State Highway. We have asked for some lights in several places, but so far have been turned down,” Smith said.
Hopefully anxieties will calm as the community finally gets a long break from construction work. The next project on the city’s list is Henry Road, and that construction will begin in the early summer of 2022.
For now, Mayor Smith asks the community to continue being patient as construction wraps up.
“It’s always a little frustrating at the beginning of the semester because everybody is learning different routes and learning their schedules. It will get better as the semester goes on,” said Smith.