State to widen I-65

Published 2:58 pm Tuesday, July 8, 2008


After years of planning, the widening of Interstate 65 from Pelham to Calera may soon become a reality.

State transportation officials announced Monday that they are ready to open bids

for the first part of the project.

Alabama Department of Transportation officials will let bids Aug. 15 to widen Interstate 65 from Valleydale Road to Shelby County 52.

Officials had planned to open bids July 25, but pushed that date back because of contractor worries.

“It’s just going to be such a large bid. They were concerned about too many people with too many questions,” said Rep. Mike Hill (R-Columbiana), who serves on the state’s joint highway committee. “They wanted everyone to have plenty of time to give attention to everything.”

Hill said the first phase of the project would cost at least $50 million.

There will be a conference July 14 to address any concerns contractors have about the widening.

“Everyone realized how big this is and started panicking,” said Hill.

Hill said if the state had stayed with the July 25 deadline, contractors would have put in more expensive bids.

“If somebody had to rush to make a bid, they would go on the higher end just to be safe,” said Hill.

Construction could begin as early as October. A completion date is set for July 1, 2011. Later projects will widen the Interstate from Shelby County 52 to Alabaster and eventually to Calera.

Hill hopes bid for all parts will be approved within the next four years.

“This will add to the problem for the short-term, but at least we can see a light at the end of the tunnel.