VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. (WIAT) — The council members for the city of Vestavia Hills have been working for years to get an underground pedestrian tunnel project approved. Monday’s council meeting was one of the last before the ground-breaking. CBS 42’s Malique Rankin was there.
Council members voted to confirm the project bid, awarding it to Gillespie Construction. Once Gillespie begins work, they’ll have 60 days to get the job done.
For parents and drivers in Vestavia Hills, having an underground pedestrian tunnel gives some peace of mind.
“I think the biggest concern I have with the roads is a lot of people ride their bikes on the road and run and things like that. That’s pretty scary when you’re driving,” says Suzanne Dedman, a Vestavia Hills mom.
“Yeah it’s great,” says Daniel Listi, a Vestavia Hills dad. “So for us, it means the kids can come to practice on their own. They can easily cross the street, which they can’t do today. So we’re really excited about it because it means more freedom for them and a safe way to do it.”
The tunnel will connect Liberty Park with the Sirard Hollow Athletic Complex. The total project cost is about $723,000 with 80% of the cost federally funded, and 20% coming from the city of Vestavia. The city manager says while safety is a priority, this tunnel will also help with parking.
“The ability to have the pedestrian tunnel allows individuals to be able to park in one area, particularly on days when the parking is extremely crowded which is quite frequent,” Says Jeff Downes, the city manager for Vestavia Hills.
As for the moms and dads, they’re happy to see the city stepping in where it’s needed.
“It is great always to have something safer,” says Dedman.
“Especially on really busy weekends, there’s a whole lot of traffic down Sicard Hollow. I think it’s going to reduce a lot of that turn-in traffic,” says Listi.
Council members say it takes a long time to get federally funded projects approved. This underground pedestrian tunnel was five years in the making. In the next 30 to 45 days, the city will give the construction company the OK to start work.