TALLADEGA, Ala. (WIAT) — The Talladega County Commission has voted to approve licensing for the Coosa River Express. The toll bridge would connect Highway 280 in Sylacauga to Interstate 65 in Calera. 

Now that the Coosa River Express has approval from Talladega, Tim James Inc., the company in charge of the project, needs the green light from Shelby County. 

Residents of Talladega County came to the commission meeting Monday night with mixed feelings on how this may affect their quiet way of life. “It’s going to be hard to balance that slow, country living, safe setting for our children to go to school during the day, practice in the afternoon and come home safely without fighting the traffic,” said one Talladega county resident.

Not everyone was concerned with traffic and safety. “Because I don’t want the south end of the county, or the county as a whole to fall behind the rest of the state economically,” said another resident.

Several of the residents that spoke during the public input portion of the meeting feel the bridge project would make Sylacauga a more attractive place to live.

One of the speakers at the Monday night meeting was the executive director of the Coosa Riverkeeper. She raised concerns over the environmental impact the project may have. “If Tim James Inc is able to construct this toll bridge on Lay Lake, he may be kicking up dirt with PCB’s. I’m here today because I don’t want to be responsible for telling our children they shouldn’t get into the river because we put economic development over their future,” said Justinn Overton.

Tim James, the man in charge of this project, shut down those claims. “I don’t know what they’re talking about. That’s it. We have the very best environmental engineers there is in this part of the country. They handle the permits…”

Although support for the project was divided, commissioners voted unanimously to give the Coosa River Express a license in Talladega County.

Tim James said we can expect to see his project on Shelby County Commission agendas in the coming months.