The entrance to Little River Canyon National Preserve is about to take on a new face. According to Preserve Superintendent John Bundy, highway construction began Monday on a new bridge over Little River, realignment of Highway 35 and removal of the existing bridge. Alabama Department of Transportation Division 1 Engineer Johnny Harris said the project would take about a year and a half to complete. Bundy said the project would require some access limitations to the National Park Service areas within the construction zone. The project would result in a parking area about twice the size of the existing lot and a new bridge with a pedestrian lane and benches. The $7.3 million project will also include a deceleration lane on the Cherokee County side of the bridge at the entrance to the National Preserve parking lot. Another entrance to the Jacksonville State University Little River Canyon Center will also be constructed directly across Highway 35 from Highway 176.
Harris said though the current bridge received a lower rating that prompted the work, there is no cause for concern.