Could the outer loop become a reality?

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Motorists who are trying to avoid congestion in the capital city will be happy with this news. For years commuters have been waiting for the outer loop to be built around Montgomery, connecting Interstate 65 at Hope Hull to Interstate 85 at Mitylene.

On Monday the Montgomery County Commission partnered with Focus 2000 to begin a feasibility study, and one big difference this time - it's a private project. There are to be no state, federal or local funds involved.

County officials say six to eight months is the expected time it will take to complete the study, with construction beginning not long after.

Montgomery County officials, along with the attorney for Focus 2000, are convinced if the outer loop is going to be built, this is the way to go; the public-private route and not the road to Washington.

"Government has not been able in the come up with the several billions of dollars," said Montgomery County Commission Chairmen Todd Strange.

"Focus 2000 is a non-profit, set up to take advantage of the laws that allow us to use tax-free bonds," said attorney Luther Strange.

Commissioner Strange says Focus 2000 is backed by a company called KUD International.

Both men say they have no idea how much it would cost to build the outer loop. That's part of the feasibility study and that study should indicate where the loop will connect with I-85 and I-65. One government estimate had the outer loop costing $400 million, though that estimate was made quite some time ago.

Another long term goal; if the loop is built, then there would be another analysis on building a road that would extend from the outer loop and go all the way through the wiregrass and hook up with I-10 in Florida.

"We want to dispel all the rumors that no route is clearly established..." said Commissioner Strange.

With a public-private partnership, the outer loop and the I-10 connector would become toll roads. Up until today, the state had already spent more than $50 million studying and buying right-of-ways, money that would be paid back to the state if this project comes together.

Meantime, no one is predicting just when bulldozers will start paving the way for the outer loop, but they are certain the loop is closer to reality than ever before.

"What Wall Street is waiting for is a good project, a good project that makes sense," said Luther Strange

"Just think, over a 20 or 30 year period what a boon it would be to our area to have everyone coming out of Central Florida.." added Todd Strange.