Miscommunication, headaches form over Opp bridge, culvert work

Opp city leaders irritated over what they perceive to be lack of communications from ALDOT...
Opp city leaders irritated over what they perceive to be lack of communications from ALDOT regarding Highway 331 project.(Source: WSFA 12 News)
Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 6:39 PM CDT
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OPP, Ala. (WSFA) - Communications surrounding a new bridge and culvert on Highway 331 in Covington County have become a source of irritation for Opp city leaders.

With virtually no heads up, there was a bit of a scramble to direct traffic, according to city officials.

Opp Police Chief Kevin Chance remembers all too well the confusion on the day two weeks ago when ALDOT crews showed up, seemingly unannounced, and started closing part of the road.

“So, they were going through it and then having to go down and turn around, and then we were having people pull off the side of the road,” the chief explained of the traffic mess. “We had no signs whatsoever,” said the chief.

Mayor Becky Bracke more than welcomes the culvert work and the replacement of the Lightwood Knot Bridge, about a half-mile from the culvert site location.

“The bridge is horrible,” she said.

The problem, according to the mayor, is that while they knew the work was going to be done, they had no idea when and what the project involved.

“ALDOT has been good to us in terms of sidewalks and access roads,” Bracke said. “I mean, this is our city and we knew nothing about it was going to be closed. I think communication is major anyway you go.”

“I would have personally liked to had a little bit of notification,” added Opp Fire Chief Cory Spurlin, who added the apparent lack of communications forced them to quickly learn the detour routes.

“Well, we could have set plans in place, pre-planning our stuff. We’ve had to react to this... so that’s been a little hiccup for us,” Spurlin added.

This route is a well-travel one for vacationers headed to the beach. Bracke said it’s too early to say whether this will cause a hit to very important sale tax revenues.

Late Tuesday afternoon, ALDOT released a statement on the matter saying:

“ALDOT’s contractor has made adjustments to the directional signs since the first day of the detour. Traffic is now flowing more smoothly, which is common as drivers get adjusted. We are observing traffic flow and will make adjustments as needed. Our goal is to work with the contractor in a way that we can finish up this project as quickly as possible.”

With the new bridge on the way, along with the much-improved culvert work, Opp city leaders say they know in the end it’ll be worth. It’s in the meantime, that will be a challenge for the next two years.

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