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What does Alabama need to keep up with transportation demands through 2040?

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Alabama Department of Transportation leaders invited the public to a meeting Tuesday, asking for input on its future Statewide Transportation Plan.

ALDOT is working on this plan to assess the state's transportation network, looking at where its future needs will be through 2040. It's a long-range plan to consider everything from roads to rails to air travel, and will also rely on local plans developed on a more specific scale. Engineers tell WHNT News 19 the statewide plan is to make sure the whole state is on the same page with transportation growth, and more of an overall look.

"Before you set sail, you want to get a sense of at least which continent you're headed toward," explained consultant Rod Wilburn, President of JR Wilburn and Associates. The Georgia-based company with offices in Montgomery will be leading the study into Alabama's transportation network.

"We will look at what the deficiencies may be between now and 2040, not only to support current needs but to forecast needs we'll be working on," he explained.

Curtis Vincent, ALDOT North Region Engineer, explained the limitations may come from funding, though.

"Anything we do requires a lot of money," he said. "It's a challenge to get the funding that we need to do the work we need to do."

He hopes people understand it's a plan that will address needs across the state.

"We here are trying to look out for our needs in north Alabama, but it is a fair plan for everybody," he said.

Through projections shared at the public meeting Tuesday, several North Alabama counties have major growth in population expected through 2040. Limestone County is projected to grow by more than 40% in the next 25 years. Madison County is expected to grow between 25% and 40%. Vincent said those figures mean ALDOT has a lot of work to do to prepare.

The plan will focus on programs, policies, and strategies to address the study's findings about what's needed in the future. It involves data collection, travel demand models, a review of other plans, and a look at highway volumes.

A draft is expected in April 2017, when ALDOT and Wilburn will have more public input meetings before May 2017, when the final plan is released.

If you want to make sure the study team sees your comments for the plan you can email them at altransplans@dot.state.al.us.