Store owner says new US 31 design hurting business


SPANISH FORT – Work to widen US 31 in Spanish Fort should be complete by early 2021, but at least one business owner on the route is not pleased with the proposed highway design.

Crews have been working to widen the road from two lanes to four since 2019. The project should be complete in early 2021, Kaitlyn Turner, spokeswoman for the Alabama Department of Transportation, said.

“We’re hoping to get traffic into all four lanes early next year,” Turner said. “We were aiming for the end of this year, but with the storms, we had the two hurricanes and weather will move the timeline a little bit. So, we’re hoping to have traffic in those four lanes not too long from now.”

Doug Lundy of the Country Wagon said the new median at his location will cut off his business from east-bound traffic. He placed a sign with the message “ALDOT is discriminating against my business,” in front of his store. He said other locations, including a non-profit had turn lanes placed in front of their sites.

“My biggest deal is not getting a turn lane when I’m the only business on 31 without one,” he said. “You got non-taxpayers getting one and you’ve got a tax-payer that doesn’t get one.”

He said construction has already cut his business in half and the lack of access will make the situation worse.

“They’ve done killed me already doing all this, but now, nobody’s going to that red light to turn and come all the way back down here. If they’re coming this way, they might stop in here, but nobody’s going to come all the way up there to come all the way back down,” Lundy said. “If you had it from 181 to 98 and nobody had one, I wouldn’t open my mouth, but everybody’s got one but me. Then they expect me to talk nice to them when they come up with something stupid. It ain’t happening. I don’t care what everybody says.”

Turner said the section of US 31 where Lundy’s business is located was designed with a median due to the number of driveways on the north side of the highway between Old Mobile Road and Stagecoach Road.

The median is intended to reduce safety risks when drivers have to cross several lanes of traffic getting to the driveways.

“Access to the business is not being cut off and vehicles needing to access the business or the other driveways, will be able to make safe, protected U-turns at the Stagecoach Road signalized intersections,” she said in an emailed statement.

Turner said a traffic study was done before work began to widen US 31 to determine the safest design for the highway. ALDOT used some of the recommendations from the study, including medians, in the final design.