ALDOT Director Proposes Toll Bridge Into Decatur

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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.


  • Laura

    in this economy, with no raises for a lot of people, some have taken pay cuts over the last few years and employers are not giving it back, groceries are going up, insurance is up, mortgages are up if insurance is escrowed, some still can’t afford to go to the doctor because deductibles are high, co-pays are high, and some things are just not covered as they should be…..I’m saying all of this from experience in my own family…..having a toll bridge is utter nonsense for those of us in this situation.

    • Bob

      The other bridges would still be in place nor would you be required to drive over this toll bridge.
      If anything, this would alleviate the number of cars on the current highway and lessen congestion.
      The main reason it’s being proposed a toll bridge is so that the cost of bridge would not be leveraged on all taxpayers, just those that use it, which as I stated earlier, you don’t have to drive across it.

  • B

    Sounds like a giant waste of tax payer money, with little return. I dont know the details of the “Sweetwater Development”, maybe thats what would entice people to pay a toll to take this route and why I don’t understand the reasoning behind this?

    I think most of us would prefer that the 500 million be spent repairng and making our current roads and bridges safer, than wasted on a toll road/bridge that most of us will avoid in these times….. Just my thoughts.

    • Bob

      So you state that you don’t know the “details”, but, yet you’re willing to give your opinion on the matter and tell us why it’s wrong.
      How do you even make it through the day?

  • Steve Fuller

    I love how he says that by adding toll it will not be a tax burden to the tax payer. I have to ask if taxpayers aren’t footing the bill who are? Tolls and taxes are one and the same sir. You most be Democrat to think you can make a statement like that and no one would pick up on it.

  • Janice Martin

    Is it being proposed to be built by private individuals or the state? I’m not clear on that. Tolls often mean a private company is involved. Democrats do not want higher taxes on the poor. They are already being made to bear the majority of the taxes in this state. That is the republican plan, charge the poor so the rich can keep their money. The rest of the republican plan is getting 37% of the Alabama budget from the federal government and then complain about to much government. If the Feds withdrew ‘to much government’, Alabama will have to come up with better than a 1/3 more taxes.

  • bwill

    Why would I want to pay to drive on a road that I built to begin with? I have no doubt tax payer’s money will go to build the road, as it does for all roads. I will never pay to drive on a toll road to a shopping complex to spend money and pay tax on those purchases! How absurd!

  • Ptolomaeus

    We do not need a new bridge over the river, and much less, a toll road. The man proposing the toll road to relieve taxpayers the burden of footing the bill either doesn’t seem to know, or more likely, care, that the taxpayers who use the road are footing the bill. Tax or toll, we, the taxpayers are paying for this useless project that’s being used to line some friend’s pocket. Is this going to be Decatur’s “Bridge to Nowhere”? Probably.

    • Greg Hopper

      Not worth the effort for the bridge … The island that it hits on the edge of the river channel is a major Indian site !

  • Brittany

    $2 each way? That is outrageous… More than any toll I’ve crossed. Are they going to offer toll passes like most toll roads? Traffic backs up during the week at the causeway and bridge. Drives me nuts… but I’m not spending $20 a week on a toll to go to and from work

  • sheli

    Who proposed this? I want to make sure I vote them out & anyone else supporting this hair brained idea!

    • Bob

      It’s painfully obvious how much attention you paid in high school to Alabama State government.
      Your parents must be so proud.

  • tim

    Bob, toll is just another word for TAX ! You have spent a lot of time taking about other peoples education, yet your to stupid to see a new tax when its right in front of you. Its not a good idea period. They will tax people to build it then tax people to use it. Just another stupid liberal idea from someone who likes to spend other people’s money…..liberalism is a mental disorder ! get some help man…..

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