I-65 widening officially in ALDOT budget

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

Construction on widening Interstate 65 to six lanes between Pelham and Alabaster is on the Alabama Department of Transportation’s 2018 fiscal year budget, according to ALDOT five-year-plan documents.

According to the plan, ALDOT has budgeted for the construction during the upcoming fiscal year, which will begin in October of this year. The plan calls for a total construction cost of about $52.8 million, of which $42.6 million will come from federal sources and $10.2 million will come from state and local sources.

In early May, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey directed ALDOT Director John Cooper to widen the about three-and-a-half mile portion of I-65 between the tank farm exit in Pelham and the Propst Promenade exit in Alabaster.

The announcement came about a year and a half after former Gov. Robert Bentley, who resigned in April amid allegations he used state resources to further and cover up an affair, directed ALDOT to fast-track the project.

In addition to the added travel lanes, the project also will increase shoulder space along the northbound and southbound lanes “to easily allow more lanes to be added in the future,” according to Ivey. More than 93,000 vehicles travel the section of roadway each day, with more than 12,000 of those being tractor trailers, Ivey said.

According to Ivey, ALDOT will take bids on the plan before the end of the 2017 calendar year. The project likely will require two years to complete, at an estimated cost of between $50 million and $60 million. The chosen contractor will be notified by February 1, 2018, with construction to begin by the end of February 2018, she said.

Cooper said the project also will position the stretch of interstate to handle growing traffic demand in the future.

To view ALDOT’s full five-year plan for Shelby County, visit http://cpmsapps.dot.state.al.us/OfficeEngineer/ProjectReports/FypRpts/59Fyp.pdf.