EUFAULA, Ala. -
Some folks in Eufaula are upset with the Alabama Department of Transportation.
They say the state wants to widen the historic Eufaula Avenue, which you might know from the many antebellum homes that line the highway.
The stretch of road is about three-quarters of a mile long, and it's famous in Alabama. It was featured in the 2002 film "Sweet Home Alabama." and Eufaula residents want the state to leave it alone.
The drive down Eufaula Avenue in Eufaula is a memorable one. Trees and greenery line the way, acting as a canopy.
But, local leaders are afraid their personal oasis will be harmed by more asphalt.
“It is such a spectacular place. It is like stepping back in time. If you take out the parkway or median, that would take away this special character of Eufaula,” said Doug Purcell with the Historic Chattahoochee Commission.
“I call it our signature hole. On a golf course, you have a signature hole,” said Eufaula city councilman Jason Bennett. “This is our signature hole. People come in and they want to retire in this area.”
Stakes and flags were put in the ground last week to mark where the road would be if widened to make more room for traffic.
“Actually, traffic counts have decreased here in the last few years. The reason being we have lost our industrial base and lost jobs,” Purcell said.
And Purcell says they would lose more if the roadway is affected. They brought in the same tree experts that examined the Toomer's Oaks in Auburn.
People in Eufaula are claiming that four lanes would eventually kill trees that add a lot of character to the city.
Jason Bennett is a city councilman in Eufaula. His house is on the avenue. He says traffic concerns are overblown.
I live in the traffic. I drive in it every day. It's not that big of a deal,” said Bennett.
Locals say the historic stretch of roadway is important enough for them to make a request that is rarely heard in regards to state funds.
“We are just asking ALDOT to not spend their money here. I'm sure the state of Alabama is flush. But, we don't want it,” Bennett said.
We did hear from AL DOT Director John Cooper via email. He says there are no construction plans at this point. But, he does say there is a transportation problem on Eufaula Avenue.
Cooper did say in his email that he looks forward to talking more with local leaders in Eufaula.