At its meeting on Tuesday night, the Auburn City Council approved a development agreement with a local developer that secures the right-of-way for the planned Richland Connector Road that will link Martin Luther King Drive to Richland Road.
The agreement between the city and Edgar Hughston Building Inc. will provide for up to a 100-foot-wide right-of-way through the west side of the Plainsman Lake development for the Richland Connector Road, which will run from Richland Road near Creekside Elementary School to Martin Luther King Drive.
The connector road, with a projected cost of $8 million, is proposed to "provide an alternate route for residents to access homes, public schools, and parks facilities along Richland Road," according to a memo included in meeting materials.
"The agreement, as written, is very advantageous to the city in terms of providing us the right-of-way for the Richland Connector, which is essential to the city's growth," said Ward 2 Councilman Kelley Griswold.
The agreement also requires the developer to contribute $315,000 toward the construction of the connector road, with the city responsible for its design, bidding and construction.
Residents of the Solamere neighborhood, which will connect with the Plainsman Lake development, voiced their concerns over the traffic conditions the new development will create, both during construction and after completion, for the single entrance/exit out of the neighborhood at Solamere Lane. Residents have long wanted a turn signal out of Solamere Lane. The city petitioned the Alabama Department of Transportation, which controls Martin Luther King Drive, for a turn signal and new turn lanes along the road at Solamere Lane. ALDOT denied the request, saying that current conditions did not warrant a signal or the proposed turn lanes, according to meeting materials.
"Traffic load certainly is difficult to solve," said Scott Cummings, executive director of Development Services. The city and developer will continue to work toward getting a signal at Solamere Lane, as well as petitioning ALDOT for a temporary construction access .
"We will certainly support any application submitted and make it as clear as possible," said City Manager Megan McGowen Crouch, who also said she's reached out to state Rep. Joe Lovvorn for help in persuading ALDOT to move forward with some of the requests.
The bidding process for the Richland Connector Road is expected to begin in October.