People traveling to Athens Stadium are used to being under the lights on Friday nights during the fall, but soon a light of a different sort will be making its way near the facility.

The City Council unanimously approved at its meeting Jan. 25 a resolution to execute a permit for the installation of a new traffic signal at the intersection of U.S. 31 and Black & Gold Drive, the road between Athens Middle School and the stadium.

The former Kmart site sits on the other side of the intersection, opposite AMS. A new Publix location will soon be housed in the location, with completion expected by late 2021 or early 2022.

According to City Engineer Michael Griffin, Athens has to issue a permit in order to work within the Alabama Department of Transportation right of way.

“This (resolution) will allow the mayor to enter into an agreement with the DOT in order to work within that right of way in order to construct the access improvements in the midtown center development,” Griffin said.

U.S. 31 is a federally maintained highway that runs from Mobile to Huntsville in Alabama, then all the way to northern Michigan.

According to the resolution, the existing traffic signal at the intersection of U.S. 31 and Hobbs Street will be modified and improved as part of the project.

The overall project will include work on Pryor Street as well. Griffin said entering into the agreement will allow the City to bid out all of these access improvement in one open contract to get a better price.

“Once we enter into these agreements and resolutions, that would allow us to proceed forward to the next step of the project,” he said.

Councilman Harold Wales asked Griffin if the City would have to “foot the complete bill” for these improvements. Griffin said the City would be refunded through a tax abatement.

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