ALDOT, national engineering firm evualuate highway stormwater runoff into historically black community

ELBA, Ala. (WDHN) — Four weeks after a visit from Federal transportation leaders and Secretary Pete Buttigieg toured the Shiloh Community, Wednesday morning residents noticed unmarked trucks in their community and workers from the Alabama Department of Transportation and an independent contractor from Aecom — an engineering company.

“Jason with the stormwater with Aldot and they had AECOM and they told us what they were about to do, they shook our hands and the people here want action, not lip service,” Timothy Williams said.

Residents saw a glimpse of the action from the state as they were out on the property doing an assessment — ALDOT hired the company last fall.

“(They) Measured some pipes, measured some ditches and looking to elevate some things and keep the water for coming in over on us, pretty much they are trying to get the water out of here because when it rains it floods,” Williams said.

Residents blame the Highway 84 expansion in 2018 for causing water runoff into their community which they say has caused damage to their properties.

Last month, Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the Federal Highway Administration walked the grounds to hear testimonies from residents living through the situation, where he assured them they would investigate and work collectively on the federal and state levels toward a solution.

Williams believes the federal visit prompted the state to act.

“Afterward they sent a contractor out here for an independent study but it contradicts what they said in the media and we don’t have time for games,” He said.

On the federal level, the secretary’s office says conversations are still ongoing but residents say departments have been reaching out.

“USDA contacted us but its nothing they can do this situation is too far gone,” Williams said. “We can’t get in debt trying to take out loans.”

Williams said they are optimistic about the federal agencies. He believes their situation is not a time to play politics and they were told their community is one of the top priorities right now.

“People are tired of false hope you make promises about how you are going to do this and that but it doesn’t happen,” He said. “We need action, not false hope because six years and four months is too long to get justice.”

Residents say the community just wants to be made a whole again and with all of the moving parts in this process they hope it is sooner rather than later.

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