I-65 widening in Alabaster could begin next year

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Alabama Department of Transportation could begin widening Interstate 65 from exit 242 in Pelham to exit 238 in Alabaster as soon as the spring of next year, ALDOT Director John Cooper told Alabaster City Administrator George Henry during an Aug. 25 meeting.

Cooper spent the day at Pelham City Hall while meeting with officials from several Birmingham-area municipalities to discuss road concerns in the area.

During Cooper’s meeting with Henry, the two spoke of plans to widen I-65 to six lanes from exit 242 to the Colonial Promenade exit in Alabaster. ALDOT recently completed widening the interstate from Hoover to exit 242, which has relieved congestion on the heavily traveled section of interstate.

“He said that, assuming federal funding was kept at current levels, to expect this project (to widen I-65 to the Promenade exit) to proceed unimpeded,” Henry said. “Currently, (ALDOT is) planning to let bids in late spring 2012.”

Once completed, the project will widen I-65 to six lanes from Alabaster to downtown Birmingham. Because many Shelby County residents travel north for work every day, the extra lanes will help cut down on daily commute travel times.

“Every major thoroughfare within Alabaster is a state or county highway,” Henry said. “Therefore, we will continue to work closely with these officials to complete these improvements for the residents and stakeholders.

“Economic growth is hampered and shifted when infrastructure constraints cause traffic flow deficiencies,” Henry added.

Henry also spoke with Cooper about finding the funding necessary to widen Alabama 119 between Shelby County 26 and Shelby County 80 in southern Alabaster.

Currently, Alabama 119 offers four travel lanes between U.S. 31 and Shelby County 26, but the road narrows to two lanes south of Shelby County 26.

However, Cooper did not name a possible starting date for the Alabama 119 widening project, Henry said.