Ivey made two big road improvements for Madison and Limestone Counties as part of her "Rebuild Alabama Act" first year plan 2020. "You asked, we answered," said Ivey.
The first project includes resurfacing and revising lanes on Interstate 565 from Interstate 65 to County Line Road to provide an additional lane in each direction through the partial use of shoulders, making it a six-lane interstate.
ALDOT spokesman in the North Region, Seth Burkett, said. "We will be resurfacing and re-striping the inside shoulders to create the third lane on each side. "He added, "What we are looking to do is work with what we have existing as much as possible to do this as cost-effectively as we can."
The second project will allow for the expansion of the bridge over I-65 at exit 347 and widening Browns Ferry Road to be extended westward across to U.S. Highway 31.
"That will join up with what the city of Huntsville is constructing East of the interchange. They are expanding Huntsville Browns Ferry Road East of the interchange," Burkett explained. "This will connect the industry to the interstate. It will also connect commuters to the industry."
“While the Huntsville and surrounding areas are booming with continual economic growth, it was imperative we make enhancements to their infrastructure system for the nearly 60,000 vehicles traveling on I-565 daily. Both improvement projects will be significant strides for this area,” Governor Ivey said in a news release. “This will improve the daily commute for several thousand drivers and provide access to the new Mazda-Toyota joint assembly plant. When we began on the road to Rebuild Alabama, I promised our state would see real results, real improvements and a promising future, and we’re certainly delivering on that.”
Both improvement projects will greatly increase access to the Mazda-Toyota development, relieve congestion on I-565 and will help pave the way for further economic growth.
“Mayor Battle and the City of Huntsville are grateful to Governor Ivey, her administration, and the Alabama Department of Transportation for their partnership in improving these critical corridors. These infrastructure projects will dramatically help capacity in Huntsville and further support our economic growth," Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said in a news release.
Beginning in January, state, county, and municipal governments in Alabama will begin to see additional revenue from the fuel tax increase of six-cents which begins in September. Once the 10-cent increase is fully implemented in 2021, Madison County will receive an additional $3.5 million dollars and Limestone County will receive $1.27 million, on top of what they already receive, to be used for various transportation infrastructure projects.
"We are trying to bring our infrastructure up to speed to where it can meet the demands we are going to have," Burkett explained.
He said the 565 portion of the project is being planned now, with construction expected in the spring or summer of 2020. It is expected to cost an estimated $17 million. The Huntsville- Browns Ferry portion will be constructed sometime in 2020 with an estimated $27 million price tag. ALDOT is still evaluating the funding sources, but Burkett said these projects would not be happening as soon as they are without passage of the fuel tax increase in the Rebuild Alabama Act. Still, he said it is ALDOT's goal to spend that money wisely.
"We are looking for efficiency in time and cost. One, because we do have limited resources," Burkett stated. "And the day of Mazda-Toyota opening is getting closer and closer."