HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The new Mazda-Toyota plant isn't built just yet, but Huntsville city leaders want to make it easier for you to get there. Next week, work will begin expanding the I-565 interchange near Greenbrier Road.
The dreaded 4:00 p.m. drive west on I-565 leaving Huntsville slows traffic to a crawl.
"It's right in the neighborhood of 59 to 60,000 vehicles a day," ALDOT public information officer Seth Burkett said.
You can add at least 4,000 more cars and trucks to that figure once the Mazda Toyota plant is finished in the next three years.
"It's hard to keep up with the demand at times, we just try to plan ahead for it," Huntsville's director of engineering Kathy Martin said.
City leaders and ALDOT, hoping to avoid a future red light parade of brake lights, will start work next week building a new interchange off I-565 to Greenbrier Road.
"It certainly improves traffic flow and safety," Burkett said.
The interchange will cost around $10.3 million, making an easy exit for future auto workers and the rest of the eastbound drivers.
"There's the Target distribution center, Polaris and now the MTM US factory," Martin said, indicating the increase in traffic on the road.
"The exits seem short when you're on them but the project zone is actually over a mile long," Burkett said.
Burkett says it'll take at least a year to build the new interchange, most likely the next two winters. He expects the work will be done by 2020. Burkett tells us the project is being paid for with 90 percent federal dollars and 10 percent state money.