Alabaster takes step on I-65 widening project


By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – The Alabaster City Council took one of the first major steps toward widening Interstate 65 to exit 238 during a recent meeting, as it approved an agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation allowing a portion of the project to move forward.

Council members voted unanimously during their Aug. 14 meeting to approve the resolution with ALDOT. Through the resolution, the city agreed to allow ALDOT to complete the widening project, and agreed to maintain the light poles, traffic signals and pay for the electricity to power the signals and lights at the I-65/U.S. 31 interchange after the project is completed, Alabaster City Manager Brian Binzer said previously.

“This is a pretty standard agreement we are called to enter into whenever road work like this is being completed,” said Ward 5 Alabaster Councilman Russell Bedsole. “This is an agreement that is required by the state before the project can begin.”

Construction on widening I-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.

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.