ALDOT soon to widen I-65 to Promenade exit

Published 5:05 pm Thursday, August 26, 2010

An upcoming Alabama Department of Transportation project to widen Interstate 65 from the Pelham tank farm exit to Alabaster’s Colonial Promenade exit could solve many of Alabaster’s traffic problems while helping draw more businesses to the city, according to Alabaster Mayor David Frings.

ALDOT recently began preparation work on its project to widen the interstate to eight lanes from the tank farm exit to the Alabaster shopping center exit. Although ALDOT has not yet announced a starting date for the project, it will begin work soon after completing its current widening project from the Shelby County line to the tank farm exit, Frings said.

Traffic on I-65 typically slows to a crawl near the Promenade exit every morning and evening, as the current four-lane interstate is not able to handle the area’s rush-hour loads.

“Widening it will certainly help our traffic problems,” Frings said. “Actually, when they finish the part they are working on now (in Pelham), I think it will really make a difference.

“As far as widening the interstate from Pelham down to the Promenade exit, they have already started the drilling process and preliminary work like that,” Frings added. “They have told us they will begin working on that section as soon as they get done with the part they are working on now.”

After widening I-65 to the Promenade exit, ALDOT will then move on to its next project, which will widen the interstate from the Promenade exit to the Shelby County Airport exit.

While ALDOT is working to widen the stretch of interstate from the tank farm exit to the Promenade exit, it will repave the badly worn section of I-65 between the Chilton County line and the Promenade. Repaving could begin as early as October, and likely will take about a year to complete, according to ALDOT officials.

While many area drivers will enjoy the reduced traffic once the widening projects are completed, Alabaster officials are looking forward to an increase in business and economic development. When shoppers are able to easily access a municipality, companies usually show more interest in locating there, Frings said.

“It will help us by having a positive effect when we are trying to recruit businesses and market the city,” Frings said. “If traffic is bogged down, businesses will notice that and take it into consideration when they are looking to open new locations.”

An adequate transportation system will also help recruit industrial companies to the city, because it will make it easier for the companies to ship and receive goods, Frings said.

“You’ve got to have a transportation infrastructure that is able to move goods and people efficiently,” Frings said. “Because a wider interstate will help us to do that, I think it will really help the city.

“It will benefit us as a city, and will help everyone in Shelby County to have this project running right through the middle of the county,” Frings said. “It will help Alabaster continue to be a contender for development, both retail and light industrial.”