Toll bridge proposed for Lay Lake in central Alabama

COLUMBIANA, Ala. (AP) — A proposed toll bridge over Lay Lake that could spur economic development in central Alabama is drawing concerns from some residents and environmentalists.

Some who live near the site on the Shelby-Talladega county line are worried about noise and traffic should the bridge be built, and the Alabama Rivers Alliance has raised questions about issues plus construction and the long-term impact of quality of life in the area.

Businessman Tim James has proposed the bridge, which would link the counties across the Coosa River. He told WIAT-TV that some noise is a small trade-off for the historic economic development a toll bridge would bring.

“But yes it is a road, and there is a going to be more traffic and there’s going to be more noise,” James said. “At the same time, you can’t have growth without traffic.”

Frank West, who lives near the proposed bridge site, said he wouldn't have bought a home there had he known a toll bridge would be considered.

“We are 300 yards away from where a toll bridge will be with transfer trucks going across day and night,” West said. “So no, we’re not excited about it.”

A public involvement meeting is scheduled for Feb. 18 on the bridge, which has become a topic of discussion for state lawmakers as well. On Wednesday, a bill was introduced that would require voter approval in counties considering toll bridges.