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MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) – Governor Kay Ivey visited Huntsville Thursday and took the time to announce the funding for much-needed expansion projects for three major roadways in Madison County.

Governor Ivey announced the expansion of I-565 along a 4.2-mile stretch from County Line Road to Wall Triana with a lane being added in both directions.

She also announced improvements to Highway 53 that would add more lanes from Taurus Drive to Harvest Road, just under a mile long. Tony Harris with the Alabama Department of Transportation told News 19 after the announcement that construction is scheduled to begin in late 2022.

“Today’s announcement of the widening project for Hwy. 53 has been discussed for decades,” District 6 Representative Andy Whitt said. “I am appreciative of Governor Ivey’s renewed commitment on tackling this issue and getting the project back online. There is more work to be done, but this is certainly a step in the right direction. “ 

The Highway 72 expansion project will go from the Providence Main intersection to just west of Nance Road. Harris explained construction on the 2.5-mile stretch of road will start with the bridge over Indian Creek.

That project will expand the current four-lane divided highway into a six-lane divided highway with fewer access points and median crossovers, according to the Alabama Department of Transportation. The project will also modify several intersections along the route.

Ivey made the announcement during her annual address to local businesses and Madison County civic leaders at a luncheon Thursday afternoon.

“I am proud to partner with Gov. Ivey, Mayor Battle, and Mayor Finley to build new roads that will help commuters from across North Alabama,” said Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong. “These major arteries carry commuters from a 17 county region that travel here every day. This is another example of how we can do big things when we work together as a region.”

“To be a growing, prosperous city you have to have a transportation grid that supports the needs of your workforce,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle stated. “These three major projects are a strong start in accomplishing our ROR2 plan to keep metro Huntsville thriving and provide a high quality of life.”

As for the source of funding for the roadwork, that comes from the Rebuild Alabama Act. Lawmakers passed, and Ivey signed the measure in 2019. The move raised the state’s gas tax 10 cents over a three year period to help fund road projects.

The final increase took effect this past October, ultimately upping the tax from 18 cents per gallon in 2019 to 28 cents per gallon now. Diesel jumped from 19 cents to 29. Prior to that, the tax had not changed since 1992.