There is no getting around it (excuse the pun} but it is just not easy driving in Tuscaloosa/Northport. With the exception of the short I359 connector and the I 20/59 corridor running through the area, there are no other limited access roadways to reduce congestion, drive times and reduce accidents. The bulk of the two city's streets are ground roadways with interminable traffic lights at many massive and dangerous intersections.

There is a western bypass with a toll bridge, but it is not limited access and while use has increased over the years it falls short of what it could be due to its location and the toll according to some road experts.

Adding turn lanes will only go so far on major arteries like McFarland and Lurleen Wallace Blvd.

Unlike Huntsville, Montgomery, and Mobile, a lack of foresight by city fathers decades ago kept Tuscaloosa and Northport from building a bypass when land acquisition was cheaper and easier, and the cities had not sprawled out. The idea has been brought up at times but been shot down by cost, environmentalists, neighborhoods not wanting it built in their backyard and a number of other excuses.

Today Cottondale Republican State Senator Gerald Allen announced he will introduce a bill in the upper chamber tomorrow to revive the concept with a bit of a twist to it.  The legislation would allow a county-wide vote that would establish a savings account of sorts to put aside money to finally build the bypass in seven stages. The account would be administered by the Tuscaloosa County Road Improvement Commission which is a joint effort by municipalities and the county to fund and coordinate construction, improvement and maintenance of roadways.

Each government entity would make quarterly deposits to the savings account. Tuscaloosa and Tuscaloosa County would each deposit $1.25 million, while Northport would chip in $625,000.

Allen told a press conference that he broached the subject in a letter to the three governing bodies in May and had a meeting at the Tuscaloosa Alabama Department of Transportation office in September.

There is already a map with a proposed path for the limited access roadway with interchanges but due to growth in the years since it was developed, it will need to be reevaluated. That map derived from a 1991 study that would have developed SR297 as an 18 mile long Eastern Bypass beginning at Interstates 20/59 in Cottondale and terminating at U.S. Highway 82 just to the west of Northport. Only one portion was ever completed - the Bryant Bridge in 2004.

More From 95.3 The Bear