More than $10 million set aside for 6 bridges in Lee County

6 bridges along I-85 to be widened

LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - It happened at exit 60 on Interstate 85 in Opelika. State Senator Tom Whatley said an 18-wheeler caused another car to hit his fiance’s vehicle some years back while she was in the acceleration lane headed south on 85. The car flipped. She walked away. Even now, Whately’s fiance won’t talk about it.

“That is typical for most people involved in a serious accident whether it be here or elsewhere," said Whatley.

There is virtually no acceleration lane when you get on the on-ramp headed towards Auburn. On this day, a dump truck needed to slow down before merging left. Otherwise, he would’ve driven straight into the bridge. Here’s another example: an 18-wheeler had to slow down, squeezing in front of another truck just in time to accelerate again and cross the bridge.

High traffic count means potential danger for motorists.

“Any wreck on the interstate stops your vehicle," said Whatley.

All this is about to change thanks to nearly $11 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“A total of six bridges will actually be widened where the acceleration lane will be lengthened," said Senator Randy Price.

The remaining bridges set to be widened are located in a two-mile stretch from here towards Auburn and that includes an area near Tigertown.

“While we were standing here talking, there are trucks having to gear down,” said Whatley.

Whatley is convinced it’s only a matter of time before someone meets a fatal end.

According to the Alabama Department of Transportation, construction to widen all six bridges will begin no later than winter of 2021, because of all the planning that’s involved and the bidding process, and it will take around two years to complete the job.

Both senators credited U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, Congressman Mike Rogers and Gov. Kay Ivey for their efforts in getting the funds for the bridge projects.

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