By William C. Singleton III
Vestavia Hills city officials are moving forward with a plan to build a tunnel that will link the Liberty Park Sports Complex with the Sicard Hollow Athletic Complex.
The city recently received a federal grant through the Alabama Department of Transportation to build the tunnel, which is expected to cost $473,708. The grant is an 80/20 match, so the federal government will cover $378,966 and the city of Vestavia Hills will pay $94,742.
The winding Sicard Hollow Road separates the Liberty Park Sports Complex from the recently-built Sicard Hollow Sports Complex. A tunnel will allow children, adults and those with disabilities to cross from one park to the next without having to navigate street traffic, city officials say.
The tunnel will run under Sicard Hollow Road, said City Manager Jeff Downes.
“The Sicard Hollow Road Tunnel Safe Route will provide a much needed pedestrian connection between the two parks and between the community and schools on the Liberty Park side to the recreational opportunities at Sicard Hollow Athletic Complex,” Downes wrote on the city’s Facebook page.
The city will seek a design firm for the project, he said.
“There’s a strong desire that this project could be done in a shorter time frame that some are suggesting might being a year,” Downes said.
Councilman Jim Sharp said the grant represents the hope officials had when they first purchased the Sicard Hollow property for athletic fields.
The Sicard Hollow Sports Complex officially opened May 22, 2011 and features four synthetic turf fields used by the city’s football, lacrosse and soccer youth programs.
“We were hoping that we would have some way to connect those two areas,” Sharp said. ϖ