LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. - This month Governor Kay Ivey announced plans to make I-565 a six-lane interstate. But the state is working with limited funds, which means the "ultimate plan" for I-565 is not yet in reach.
Curtis Vincent, an ALDOT engineer for the northern region, says traffic on I-565 needs relief right now.
"We've been looking at 565 for a couple of years, knowing that we needed additional capacity," he said.
Engineers just had to find a way to do it without substantial costs. They realized that the inside shoulders of the highway are already built to the required specifications for an additional lane, so instead of building new lanes, they can just pave the shoulders.
"The ultimate solution is to widen to the outside," Vincent said. "In doing that we'd have to widen five sets of bridges, which is cost-prohibitive at the time."
Utilizing the shoulders to create additional lanes will solve the immediate need for traffic relief while also matching the current budget.
There are six bridges along I-565 between County Line Road and the I-65 interchange. The shoulders of the bridges will also be paved to create driving space, but ALDOT says they're still working within road safety requirements.
"There are many places throughout the state where you'll have less shoulder than what we're proposing on this project," Vincent said.
The I-565 widening is also still awaiting formal approval from the Federal Highway Administration.
The first phase of the project is going to extend from County Line Road to I-65 and is slated to start early spring of 2020, and should only take a few months to complete.