A gift of better roads

The orange barrels all along I-65 tell the story. Christmas is finally here.

Shelby County is getting a long-awaited present from the state of Alabama. It’s the widening of Interstate 65, from the Valleydale exit toward the Shelby County airport.

We have patiently waited for years to get this project underway and now, after meticulous surveys and studies, the work is underway. It will take possibly five years to complete.

When complete, the project will expand I-65 to six lanes all the way to Calera. It will be a welcome relief to stressed commuters who have to battle traffic congestion every day.

I am pleased with the commitment of Gov. Bob Riley to address traffic problems in Shelby County. Before his administration, we got only crumbs from Montgomery.

Now because of his insistence and the efforts of ALDOT Director Joe McGinnis, we are seeing progress in relieving road problems here.

For example, since I have been in the Senate, we have seen numerous key projects completed.

We have completed the widening of Highway 119 South from Alabaster to the Publix Supermarket.

We have completed the expansion and upgrade to the Shelby County Airport exit of I-65. It is a welcome relief to a very dangerous situation the plagued homebound traffic for years.

We have seen the widening of Highway 52 in Pelham from I-65 to Highway 11 that has relieved congestion that plagued commuters in Weatherly and Alabaster.

We now have orange barrels all along Highway 119 from I-65 to U.S. 280 as widening continues on that key east-west artery. It should be finished by next summer.

We have the new bridge and widening of Highway 25 South in Wilton, almost complet that will relieve the danger of a deadly intersection at Highway 139.

And that’s not counting the road repairs all throughout the county.

In all, the state of Alabama has spent more money on Shelby County roads in the last six years than any time in history.