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Local planning pays off for Montgomery’s West Fairview Avenue

Construction in progress on West Fairview Avenue in Montgomery
Mar 07

A roadway and sidewalk improvement project in Montgomery exemplifies how a strong vision for community mobility can have transformative effects.

Construction started Thursday, Feb. 8, on a West Fairview Avenue project in Montgomery that will make the corridor more accessible to businesses, as well as friendlier for pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles. The city will fund the approximately $8 million project with federal funds and a local match.

After nearly 10 years of project development by city leaders and planners to improve usability and pedestrian access along West Fairview Avenue, the efforts are paying off. “Fairview Avenue is an important commercial corridor,” District 7 Montgomery City Councilor Andrew Szymanski said. “The planned improvements will make the area better for travelers and residents alike.”

The project will reduce the number of travel lanes from four to three (one lane in each direction with a turn lane in the center), improve drainage, construct sidewalks on both sides of Fairview Avenue, add landscaping, replace aging traffic lights and consolidate utilities.

Partnership with Metropolitan Planning Organization

Montgomery officials, in partnership with the Montgomery Metropolitan Planning Organization, emphasized the need for the Fairview Avenue improvements by making it a top priority in their 2024-2027 Transportation Improvement Program. Federal law requires all Metropolitan Planning Organizations to adopt TIPs and state departments of transportation to incorporate those TIPs into their Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.

These comprehensive local and state plans must be fiscally constrained, meaning the projects included must not exceed the local, state and federal funds available during any given four-year period. These plans are based on extensive planning at the local and state level. In Alabama, projects in the STIP are often the result of years of planning by local and state officials. The process of updating each TIP and STIP not only includes extensive planning but culminates with a year-long process of public involvement and input from citizens and local leaders.

Getting things done through the MPO process

The Montgomery MPO is one of 14 MPOs in Alabama. MPOs serve as the body in charge of carrying out the transportation planning process for urbanized areas with populations over 50,000. The Alabama Department of Transportation, through the Local Transportation Bureau at the central office and ALDOT’s five region offices, works closely with local MPOs on planning, administering federal funds and project management.

Each MPO receives a direct appropriation of federal funds apportioned by formula under multi-year acts of Congress. The local governing bodies are represented on the MPOs, exercising shared discretionary authority for prioritizing federal funds for transportation projects across their geographic area.

On Montgomery’s West Fairview Avenue, local leaders applied MPO funds to meet a pressing need to reinvigorate an aging neighborhood thoroughfare on the city’s west side.

“This project is an example of how the MPO process works and how local officials can leverage federal funds to improve safety and quality of life,” said Tony Harris, chief of communication and government relations at ALDOT. “Montgomery’s West Fairview Avenue project is a great case study in planning, redevelopment and cooperation.”