As the city gears up for what many see as a welcome return to live music, spectators at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater have something all too familiar awaiting them.
Construction underway to improve Jack Warner Parkway and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard will pose some grunts starting this weekend as country music star Brad Paisley kicks off the 2021 show season on Friday.
City officials are ready for the first two shows – legendary Texan group ZZ Top arrives in town on July 30 – and plans to direct attendees to designated parking areas, even using partially closed Nick’s Kids (formerly 28th) Avenue to ease as much traffic as possible.
âThe number of available parking spaces has not changed due to construction,â said Richard Rush, communications director for the City of Tuscaloosa. “But ticket holders are advised to plan to arrive a little earlier.”
As with every show and performance since the $ 14.9 million venue opened in 2011, Tuscaloosa Police will direct traffic and help guide visitors to areas near the area.
While the four floors intermodal facility parking lot corner of Seventh Street and 23rd Avenue is still an option, City Hall will post updated parking areas or lanes near the amphitheater as ongoing road works continue, a said Rush.
âThe maps can change slightly throughout the season depending on the stage of construction,â Rush said.
Downtown visitors and residents alike have had to contend with the construction of Lurleen Wallace Boulevard in recent years, but this road is now free of heavy machinery.
Instead, they’ll now have to navigate the $ 32 million project to widen, expand, and beautify the West Tuscaloosa Corridor of Jack Warner Parkway and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard that runs directly past the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater.
Relocations and utility upgrades near the wooden train trestle began in January, but the overall project is expected to take nearly two years. In short, access to concerts could be stretched for a season or two.
This initial phase will modernize the Jack Warner Parkway between 28th and 21st Avenues and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between Stillman Boulevard and Fifth Street.
Construction, which includes a divided four-lane carriageway, sidewalks on either side, decorative traffic lights, improvements to lighting and underground utilities, is expected to take 12 to 18 months and be completed in the spring of 2022, officials said.
As this work progresses, designs for Phase II will continue to be developed.
This secondary phase will include upgrades and additional improvements to the bridges spanning the causeway at the request of the Kansas City Southern Railway Co., which operates the railway line that crosses the Black Warrior River.
For both phases, a preliminary estimate of $ 23.3 million was increased in 2019 to $ 32 million.
This cost increase came after it was decided to put utilities underground, add further improvements to landscaping, irrigation and lighting, add a pass signal for pedestrians and to extend the shared-use Riverwalk path from its current endpoint near the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater to the intersection of Martin Luther Boulevard King Jr. and Stillman.
The funding for the work dates back to a 2017 agreement between the town hall and the road improvement commission, which allows the town of Tuscaloosa to cover the initial costs of this project and to be reimbursed by the commission.
This seven-member Tuscaloosa County Road Improvement Commission was formed in 2015 to govern the spending of some of the money generated by changes outlined in local legislation, enacted the same year, which reallocated the distribution of Tuscaloosa County sales tax.
This law combined a permanent 2-cent county-wide sales tax with a temporary 1-cent tax that was due to expire in June. The resulting 3-cent tax is to serve as a “stable 3% county-wide sales tax that funds education, transportation and local utilities.”
Contact Jason Morton at [email protected].