Federal grant gives green light to Decatur overpass project

DECATUR, Ala. - The federal government is helping to put the pedal to the metal on two major road projects in Alabama. The US Transportation Secretary announced on Tuesday that the state will be awarded nearly $30 million in grant funding.

The City of Decatur will receive $14.2 million of that money for the Project SMAART Phase II, which will build an overpass bridge at the intersection of Hwy 20 and Bibb Garrett Road.

Christmas came early for the City of Decatur officials. "We're extremely excited about the opportunities that this particular grant will bring to not only our community but the region," development director, Wally Terry said.

Terry says the funds will give the project the green light and cover construction and engineering costs to build the overpass.

"It's the beginning of making this corridor safer more accessible, safer aspect to it, obviously and then we've got the potential to create more retail and development in the area," he said.

The US Department of Transportation awarded $1.5 billion for 91 projects across the country as part of the 2018 BUILD program. 62 of the projects are in rural areas. The BUILD transportation grants re-balance a ten-year, historical underinvestment in rural communities.

Terry says the city would not be able to complete the project without the federal funds.

"We, the City of Decatur alone could not have afforded to do this particular overpass."

He says that overpass will steer Decatur toward a safer future. "It's nearly impossible to safely cross from the north side to the south side. So, depending on which side of the road you're on if you want to get back to the interstate if you are on the north side then how do you cross over. Today, four lanes of traffic, in the future, 6 lanes of traffic."

Just because the federal government awarded the grant money doesn't mean any big changes will be happening overnight. It will still be several months before they begin the bidding process for the project.

Cullman will receive $14 million for the Hwy 157 widening project. The project will widen an approximately 3.5-mile section of Hwy 157 between US 31 and Hwy 69.