Our View: Highway 118 paving taking forever

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A milling and repaving project on a large portion of Highway 118 first began in September with estimates saying it would be completed by Thanksgiving. With turkey day, Christmas and New Year’s in the rearview mirror, it seems like those estimates must have been for November 2021.

For motorists in Jasper and surrounding areas, this has become the paving project that may never end. Every time the Daily Mountain Eagle has provided an update on the timetable of the project, we have been met with phone calls and online comments describing the level of how fed up area residents are with the project. We can’t blame them. Our staff is made up of all residents of Walker County. We drive the same roads as anyone in the area. We’ve had similar issues as others regarding wear and tear on vehicles during this project.

Citizens have reached out to us to talk about tire issues or their vehicle’s needing alignments after driving for so long on a milled-up roadway. Many have said that a few crashes and many near crashes have taken place thanks in part to the work being done on the stretch of highway.

The DME would like to point out that much of the complaints about the project are pointed in the wrong direction. While this is taking place in the City of Jasper, it is a Alabama Department of Transportation project with crews being from Dunn Construction, the low bidder, doing the work.

Excuses for the ranged from wet weather to cold temperatures, but ALDOT and its contractors should expect cold temperatures in October and November. 

No one on the DME staff is an engineer, but milling all areas of the roadway at one time seems a big ridiculous to us. Could all the eastbound side not be done at one time and then all the westbound side completed. At least in that scenario, each side could be turned into one lane for each direction, and each of those lanes would be fairly smooth. All areas of the road were terrible to drive on for weeks. Now, the main sections of roadway are paved but medias and adjacent roads might has well have been dirt, it would be smoother to drive across. 

The last update from city officials said the project should be finished by late January. It seems like nothing has happened since the calendar changed years. We are now nearly two weeks into January, so the next update will probably say completion at Valentine’s Day, and then maybe St. Patrick’s Day. Surely, we will not fall for it being completed on April Fool’s Day, but maybe a few days later for Easter.

It is great the state is paying the bill for this project, but it would be nice if they were paying for all the car maintenance that taxpayers have needed. Maybe they expect us to use our $600 stimulus checks for that.