UPDATE: Improvements coming on Jack Warner Parkway
By WVUA 23 News Student Reporter Caleb Aguayo
Road improvements are taking place in Tuscaloosa along Martin Luther King Boulevard and Jack Warner Parkway. District 1 City Council Member Matthew Wilson said the project’s aim is to connect West Tuscaloosa and downtown.
“What we’re hoping for is that this investment will bring forth a merge for opportunities, that this will bring forth recreational opportunities, that this will bring forth opportunities for persons to have a better quality of life,” Wilson said.
The project is part of a more than $30 million investment of Alabama’s House Bill 600, otherwise known as “Transforming Tuscaloosa County.” This 2016 bill redistributed Tuscaloosa County sales taxes toward investment into several different transportation routes.
Improvements include decorative medians to separate the road, wider sidewalks, additional lighting for pedestrians and underground utility lines.
“We are currently in Phase 1,” Wilson said. “There are more phases of the project coming, but only after permission is granted from the railroad to work around an existing truss.”
The truss in question is a historic but active train bridge next to the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. Jack Warner Parkway currently cuts directly through one of the truss’s wooden support beams, diverting traffic onto either side of the beam.
Although the project is far from over, some Tuscaloosans are already excited to have the improvements.
“I grew up here, so it’s been cool to see what they have done from the time I’ve come here,” said long-time resident Anna Kate Baxter. “The Riverwalk is not that old, so it’s cool to see it expand and incorporate more of downtown, especially as downtown grows.”
The estimated cost of the project is $73 million. Phase 2 should be complete by the end of September.