ALDOT Agrees to Delay Construction on North Eufaula Avenue Widening
Eufaula, AL—Local residents, elected officials and historic preservation groups have been reassured that North Eufaula Avenue will remain intact through the end of the year after a district court asked the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) to delay construction on the proposed widening project until it can rule on the merits of the case.
The City of Eufaula, Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation, Eufaula Heritage Association, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have come out against ALDOT’s proposed plan to widen a .8 mile residential stretch of North Eufaula Avenue from two lanes to four lanes, stating that the project will have serious historic, economic and environmental implications if allowed to proceed.
“We are relieved to learn that the clock has not run out for North Eufaula Avenue, and that we have some time now to find a possible alternative,” said Doug Purcell, coordinator of the Save North Eufaula Avenue Coalition. “We hope to reach a compromise that works for all involved.”
On behalf of the groups, the Southern Environmental Law Center filed a federal lawsuit this week charging that ALDOT’s failure to comply with required federal protections, which includes conducting studies on the project’s impacts and implementing less destructive alternatives, will result in irreparable harm to Eufaula’s tree-lined historic district.
“North Eufaula Avenue is a valuable historic treasure and one of Alabama’s most renowned scenic streetscapes,” said Sam Frazier, Trustee for the Endangered Properties Trust of the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation. “Our hope is that this respite will encourage more open dialogue and careful consideration of the importance in preserving our state’s history and special places.”
The groups filed a temporary restraining order in conjunction with the lawsuit after ALDOT suggested that project construction would commence this month. In addressing the request for a temporary restraining order, the court has required that both sides submit additional briefs. The court has asked ALDOT to agree to halt any plans for breaking ground on the project through the end of the year, at which time the court will make a decision.
“The additional time will allow for more discussion and deliberation around the impacts this project would have on Eufaula’s historic resources,” said Elizabeth Merritt, Deputy General Counsel for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Our goal is that all parties involved can move forward in determining a solution that will keep this extraordinary historic district intact.”
About the Eufaula Heritage Association:
The Eufaula Heritage Association was formed in 1965 to prevent the loss and destruction of the town’s historic treasures. www.EufaulaPilgrimage.com
About the National Trust for Historic Preservation:
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a privately funded nonprofit organization chartered by Congress in 1949 to facilitate public participation in the preservation of our nation's heritage, and to further the historic preservation policy of the United States. PreservationNation.org
About the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation:
The Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation is a membership organization supported by individuals, families, and groups throughout the state. The Alabama Trust provides a statewide voice for preservation and assists local efforts to preserve and adapt historic resources for the enrichment of our state's history, economics, and future. AlabamaTrust.info
About Southern Environmental Law Center:
The Southern Environmental Law Center is a regional nonprofit using the power of the law to protect the health and environment of the Southeast (Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama). Founded in 1986, SELC's team of nearly 60 legal and policy experts represent more than 100 partner groups on issues of climate change and energy, air and water quality, forests, the coast and wetlands, transportation, and land use. www.SouthernEnvironment.org