Tuesday, March 26, 2013

5th Divison ALDOT Needs to Come Clean

5th Divison ALDOT Needs to Come Clean

Time after time ALDOT 5th Division has made statements that simply do not add up to the truth. Starting years ago when the Eastern Bypass was first introduced to the present, ALDOT has low-balled the price and made claims of total compliance. What I have seen and documented over the same span has been quite a different scenario. There's no room here to go into all of the details but here is a link to my comments to ALDOT at the last "hearing". 

What I want to expose today is the latest string of ALDOT "misquotes". 

Isaiah Harper, 3340 News ran a story nearly a year ago concerning the houses along Crescent Ridge Road and why they were still standing. ALDOT's David Kemp told Harper then that the bids had been let out and all the houses would be torn down soon.

Flash forward to March 15, 2013. ALDOT once again said the bids had been let out and the houses would be torn down by April. When Harper asked David Kemp why it hadn't been done his response was mostly double talk and the line "Du, we must have quoted it wrong." 

How do you quote something wrong when you didn't post the bids at all? Once, I could believe this but the exact same thing was told to the Skelton family years ago when they bought the family home under a "hardship purchase". Months after the purchase the family asked why the house was still standing and the response was "we have let the bid our and we are waiting for the contractors to respond".
It doesn't take years to get a bid.
SUNDAY March 24th, 2013, Stephanie Taylor of the Tuscaloosa News wrote a feature piece on the latest issue where ALDOT's David Kemp must have "must have quoted it wrong".

"ALDOT Fifth Division Chief Engineer David Kemp said that non-structural debris has been removed from the area and that plans have been made to demolish the structures this spring" David Kemp.
Mr. Kemp was further quoted as saying... “ALDOT has been maintaining property and making weekly inspection throughout the acquisition process,” Kemp wrote in an email to The Tuscaloosa News. “Structures have been secured and maintenance forces have removed non-structural debris from the area." Take a look for yourself at photos taken the same day the story ran. You will see doors broken in, windows open, no doors at all, beds made with sheets were people have been sleeping (or other things) in there. 
creekkeeper_2008's ALDOT Crescent Ridge Road album on Photobucket
 Trees still lay on houses that were there April 27th 2011.
 “ALDOT has been maintaining property and making weekly inspection throughout the acquisition process,” David Kemp. He must have quoted it wrong again.

“It looks like a war zone,” said Holt resident John Wathen, a longtime vocal opponent of the bypass and, as Hurricane Creekkeeper, an advocate for the protection, preservation and restoration of the Hurricane Creek watershed. “We deserve better.”

Far more alarming than the open houses was the open septic tanks! I found at least 4 septic tanks broken open for months. If ALDOT has been inspecting for the last year then I have to assume that these were known to ALDOT and they consider this to be "secure" and "maintained".
creekkeeper_2008's Open ALDOT septic tanks album on Photobucket
He must have quoted it wrong again!

Many out here have become accustomed to the war zone like appearance and consider it a warped sort of normal now. That is a sad statement of our times. It is especially hard for some of the elders left here to drive by the houses owned by ALDOT that still bear the body count and search numbers along the streets. It creates a sort of stress related PTSD not known to anyone else in the county because it has been cleaned up everywhere else but the Eastern Boondoggle corridor!

Empty prescription bottles on the ground
These so-called "secured" houses have become havens for drug and other criminal activity. It makes our community unsafe and undesirable to anyone wanting to build anything new here. Empty pill bottles and alcohol containers litter the floors inside houses that are still dry enough to get some sleep or party. Sheets have been placed on one of the beds dragged up close to a broken out window.
Bed semi made with books and bottles all around

 Whether ALDOT ever demolishes the houses or gets to build the Eastern Boondoggle, we the tax paying citizens of Tuscaloosa County (and in fact the nation since this is a federally funded project) deserve truthful and transparent officials at the state departments. If the people at 5th Division ALDOT can't be forthright and honest in their comments then let them be gone.

(All comments, opinions, and photos by John L. Wathen)


  1. John,

    Thanks for you time, effort & commitment to helping our community. Eventually ALDOT will do what should have been done 15-18 months ago; however, it will not be willingly. The people and the media will be responsible. As far as Mr. Kemp, "the truth ain't in him".


    1. Thanks Kevin, I live here too. I said a long time ago that this is far more than just an environmental issue. We deserve better from the people we have to pay to treat us like this.

  2. John,

    Did not intend to slight you. When I said "our community" it included us both, along with a couple thousand others. Keep up the pressure.

  3. No slight taken my friend. We are all in this together.Hopefully we can raise our voices enough to where our so-called people's governor will see the futility in this boondoggle and pull the plug before too many millions are thrown down the tubes.