MADISON, Ala – Governor Kay Ivey has stepped in and provided new hope that the largely completed eastbound I-565 ramp leading to Toyota Field will be finished in time for the Rocket City Trash Pandas opening day.
In a letter to Madison City Mayor Paul Finley, the Governor stated in part: “Mayor, because I realize the importance of this issue to the City of Madison and to the current and potential occupants of the Town Madison development, I have directed ALDOT director John Cooper to attempt to expedite the steps required to allow the partially completed interchange to open.”
The letter follows a Madison City Council Meeting last month, where Trash Pandas’ president Ralph Nelson pleaded for the work to be finished. Mayor Finley then reached out to the Governor.
“I feel really good for our fans,” Nelson told News 19 on Tuesday. “I learned a long time ago that the fan experience starts as soon as you get inside the parking lot and it ends as soon as you leave the parking lot, and that every bit of that experience is very, very important to getting people to return.”
The ramp construction delay partially hinged on an agreement with ALDOT and Town Madison developer Louis Breland, which required other parts of the project to be started or completed before the eastbound ramp could be opened.
“We did have a list of items to complete, one of those items was again getting that signal behind me up and operational on Zierdt Road and Madison Boulevard. As you can see that’s been done, so our punch list of items to actually physically complete the interchange are done,” said Breland Companies spokesperson Joey Cici.
ALDOT told News 19 on Tuesday that one of the final steps included a transfer of property rights over the ramps to the department, which Cici said Breland Companies’ lawyers are working on this week.
An exact date for the opening of the ramp has yet to be determined, but Cici said he was confident it would happen well before the Trash Pandas’ opening day.