It will be at least 18 months until a roundabout is built at Alabama 251 and Lindsay Lane in Athens, reducing speed and improving safety at the busy intersection.

The city of Athens approached the Alabama Department of Transportation about doing the project, estimated to cost $3.1 million.

"It was submitted for federal safety funding and was approved," said Seth Burkett, public information officer for ALDOT's North Region.

But work on the roundabout cannot start until the replacement of the Forrest Street bridges is finished, and that isn't expected until March 2020. The Forrest Street bridges, located just east of U.S. 31, were deemed "structurally deficient" by today's standards and had to be replaced, according to Athens Public Works Director James Rich. They have been closed to traffic since March 4 while Miller & Miller Construction does the work.

Traffic has been rerouted to Lindsay Lane, Alabama 251 and U.S. 72.

Once the project is finished next spring, the bridges will be almost twice as wide and long and have safety barriers and a pedestrian lane so residents can walk the Swan Creek Greenway, Rich said. The Greenway, a 2.6-mile long recreational trail east of U.S. 31 in Athens, runs north and south between the Sportsplex and U.S. 72 along Swan Creek.

Although crews are in the process of relocating utilities for the roundabout, the state cannot take bids on the work until the bridge work is done, Burkett said.

"Currently, it (the roundabout) is slated for the April 3, 2020, letting," Burkett said. "It depends on the time of year it is let, but it should take about a year to construct."

Traffic will still flow through the intersection while the roundabout is being built.

"The project will be built under traffic, with detours in the work zone as segments are completed," Burkett said.

The state will pay for the roundabout.

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