DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) – Part of the Sweetwater Development proposal includes a new bridge near the end of I-565. But the director of the Alabama Department of Transportation is proposing a toll road that would provide a new river crossing in and out of Decatur.
The bridge would begin just about where I-565 ends and would provide an entirely new route over the river and into the river city.
Alabama Department of Transportation director John Cooper made the presentation himself Friday afternoon, saying 38,000 vehicles a day already cross the Tennessee River at Decatur. Cooper says that number is only expected to grow.
“I think this is rapidly becoming the primary east-west commercial corridor across north Alabama,” said Cooper.
The proposed new highway would begin essentially at the end of I-565 and would include the new access to the proposed Sweetwater Development site. From there, traffic would travel just north of the existing route, connecting with Highway 31 and then bridging the Tennessee River north of the existing bridges at Decatur, ending on Highway 20 in the vicinity of Ingalls Harbor.
The price tag, according to Cooper, would be about 500 million dollars. He says making it a toll road would relieve taxpayers of that burden.
In the next phase of the project, workers will install traffic monitoring cameras in Madison, Limestone and Morgan Counties that will track the flow of traffic for miles leading to and away from the proposed new highway.
Cooper says it’s a 7-year project and he expects the toll to be about two dollars.
Highway 20 would remain in place, along with the current river crossing, for local motorists who choose not to pay the toll.
Decatur city officials seem excited about the idea and say they believe this will only enhance the proposed Sweetwater Development and that entire corridor along Highway 20.