Alabaster working to improve Kent Dairy Road, County Road 17 intersection

By DONNAMY STELLE | Special to the Reporter

ALABASTER – Following years of consideration, Alabaster is partnering with Shelby County to improve safety features at the intersection of Kent Dairy Road and County Road 17.

Councilperson Kerri Bell Pate has pushed for the new addition throughout her five years serving the city after listening to the community’s concerns.

“It’s very much on people’s minds,” Pate said, explaining how the lack of an adequate turn lane and traffic light in the area has raised concern over the years.

The intersection originally consisted of two lanes, but a decade ago the county added a turn lane.

Although this provided a slight improvement, it was evident to Pate that the area was still outdated. Some of the problems that have interested the public are the transit times and the consistent number of automobile accidents that occur there.

“For five years I have been begging,” Pate said. “My job as an elected person is to speak for the people and that’s what the people have been saying, and it was just a really big problem in our area. Over the years we didn’t know what it would take to have a light there, but once we were able to come to an agreement with the county, that’s when we knew we would get the ball rolling.”

The initiative has gained support from other council members and Mayor Scott Brakefield, Pate said, encouraging the city and county to join together to fund the turning lane expansion and new traffic light. The project is currently in the engineering stage, but Pate hopes to see a start this summer.

“It doesn’t have to be rush hour, it could be any time of the day you will sit there for a long, long, long time,” Pate said. “It is dangerous and ultimately, it came down to taking a look at our police reports from that area, submitting to the county, making a case that this is a problem area. With all of those things together, collectively we were able to make our case and say this is something we definitely need to have done and they were in agreement. That’s why we’re able to come to this good partnership and we’re so excited about it.”

With the high school bringing in more traffic and the southwest part of Alabaster continuously growing, the new traffic light will bring on a sense of relief for the community, Pate explained.

“It can seem like such a little deal but gosh, it is such a big deal,” Pate said. “It’s going to really improve our quality of life and transit time too, so we’re excited about it. It’s been something I have been working on and passionate about for years and it involves so many people with the surrounding schools, so it’s been a vessel for all of us.”

Mayor Scott Brakefield credits Pate for her dedication to the project over the last few years and said he looks forward to seeing it come to fruition.

“The intersection at Highway 17 and Kent Dairy Road has been under discussion for some time now. I want to thank Councilperson Kerri Pate for her persistence and her patience with this project,” Brakefield said about the project. “We also owe a huge debt of gratitude to everyone at Shelby County for their willingness to partner with us on this project. We look forward to additional partnerships with the County on various projects around our City.”

Pate expressed the council’s appreciation to the county, all engineers involved and Mayor Brakefield for helping to be a driving force in this partnership.