Let’s re-do the process the right way.

There are specific guidelines that highway projects using federal funds must follow. They are to be planned and designed with a proper environmental impact process and thorough public involvement, which includes variety of alternatives from which to choose. These guidelines were not followed, severely impacting those whose land will be taken through eminent domain by the City of Decatur to implement the plan.

Bad Process = Bad Plan

By concluding the project would not have significant impacts on the “human environment,” the Alabama DOT eliminated the requirement for an environmental assessment or impact statement, even though the design will affect the neighboring Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. The City of Decatur has used a flawed process with limited public input to drive this project through the pipeline, and the illegitimate process has led to a bad plan for the corridor and for the region.

Only one chance to get it right

We remain hopeful that Decatur’s mayor, City Council, the Limestone County Commission and the Alabama Department of Transportation will conduct a proper process, providing multiple design alternatives and showing the full impact of the implementation of this project throughout the corridor.

After public input has been received with knowledge of the various options and their implications, an informed decision can be made for a better plan for the whole corridor.

The city, in cooperation with ALDOT, should provide citizens with various plans to reduce congestion and increase capacity, safety and public access which will encourage attractive development. Submitting different options, with information on the pros, cons, costs and benefits of each for public input will lead to a better plan that gets it right for everyone.

Respect the Law

Eminent domain is a method used by the government to take a person’s property for a public use, so long as the property owner is fairly compensated. In many cases, property owners don’t want to sell but are forced to do so. In this case, the property owners are being made to sell based on a plan to serve a defunct development.