Expansion of Ross Clark Circle is something Dothan Mayor Pat Thomas has been promising to do since getting involved in local politics.
Plans to expand the circle were conceived almost twenty years ago, and since then, they have been pushed back several times. Now it looks like history is repeating itself.
Plans to widen the four-lane circle were first drawn up back in the late 1980's. After being delayed for almost two decades, the project was incorporated into the Alabama Department of Transportation's five year road construction plan.
Originally the state received over $950 million from the federal government for that plan, but recently $100 million was rescinded, forcing state officials to scale back on numerous planned projects.
"Once they do that, they already have a five-year plan that is stretched to the limit; a five-year plan that is stretched to a twelve-year plan; and you take 100 million dollars away from them, and they just totally have to retool," said Mayor Thomas.
Mike Griffin, with the Alabama Department of Transportation said, "Budget amounts have gone up so much greater than the original estimates that we just can't fund it right now; there are just not sufficient funds to fund it."
The money left over is being reprioritized across Alabama. Most of it going toward construction projects in larger metropolitan areas like Birmingham and Montgomery.
But Mayor Pat Thomas says he will not give up on his campaign promise, to widen Dothan's most popular thoroughfare.
The five year plan drafted by the dot is not set in stone so there is still the possibility that a Ross Clark Circle expansion project can be included.
In the meantime, Mayor Thomas says he will continue to lobby state representatives and officials with the dot to make widening Ross Clark Circle a priority.
Anyone wanting to share any concerns about the proposed five year plan can do so by logging on to the Department of Transportation's website at www.dot.state.al.us.
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