Montgomery Outer Loop's first phase complete; ribbon cutting ceremony set
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A ribbon cutting ceremony set to take place Tuesday will mark the completion of the first phase of the Montgomery Outer Loop. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and other federal, state, and local officials will be on hand for the ribbon cutting event.
The multi-million dollar construction project has been more than 30 years in the making with planning and environmental work dating back to the 1980s.
Construction restarted in 2011 on Phase 1, and the Alabama Department of Transportation spent more than $174 million on the years-long work that now connects Interstate 85 to Vaughn Road.
Between 3,000 and 4,000 people were hired to complete the job. Sadly, two workers were killed in early 2014 when the man-lift they were in detached from the side of the bridge and fell more than 90 feet to the ground. Work was temporarily halted in the wake of the deaths but was restarted in the days that passed.
Reports from October indicated major construction work on the project was done, but road paving still had to be completed. An estimated open date was set for some time around the new year.
The hope is that the Outer Loop will pull some cars out of intersections that have become busier than they were built to manage.
Grand plans are for the Outer Loop to stretch all the way to Interstate 65, coming out south of Hooper Academy and the Hyundai Boulevard exit. However, the estimated hundreds of millions of dollars in funding needed for Phase 2 aren't currently available.
If and when the loop is completed, what is now I-85 will be renumbered as I-685 between the Outer Loop and the connection to I-65.
ALDOT has long-range plans to extend I-85 through west Alabama and connect it to I-59 in Cuba, Ala. which is near the Mississippi state line. Estimates on the cost of that expansion run in the billions of dollars.
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