Interstate 65 & 85 projects in works in AL long range transportation plan

Interstate 65 & 85 projects in works in AL long range transportation plan
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - From repaving a section of Interstate 65 to widening parts of Interstate 85, improvements are in the works for some of Alabama's biggest roadways.

It's part of the Statewide Transportation Plan (SWTP), which was outlined during a public and stakeholder meeting Tuesday night at the Alabama Department of Transportation's Southeast Regional Office on Coliseum Boulevard in Montgomery.

The SWTP is a long range assessment of the state's transportation system. It summaries current transportation conditions and identifies needs and priorities for the next 25 years. It establishes the programs, policies, and strategies that will be the focus of the state's efforts through 2040.

The plan assesses all modes of passenger and freight transportation- roadways and bridges, transit, bicycle/pedestrian, rail, aviation, and waterways.

It considers which modes are in place and where, as well as how they connect across the state and with each other.

It reviews investments in infrastructure and maintenance, and compares them to historical and anticipated funding levels.

"It's set up to provide an overview of all aspects of the transportation network throughout the state. It not only includes roadways and things like pavement reconditions and bridges and so forth, and congestion levels and traffic volumes. It also looks at what maybe some of the needs are for also transit and bicycles and pedestrians as well. All modes of transportation are addressed," said Wade Carroll, Senior Transportation Planner with J.R. Wilburn & Associates, Inc.

They were  hired by ALDOT to lead the development of the statewide transportation plan.

Roadway safety improvements were highlights, including shoulder widenings, better lighting, and railroad crossing improvements, as well as sidewalk improvements and downtown streetscape projects. Consultants took congestion and growth projections into account.

Part of the long range plan includes widening two different parts of Interstate 85 in the Montgomery and Auburn areas.

"The first project will run from Taylor Road to east of Chantilly. It's still going to maintain its four lane structure all the way to Auburn, until you get into the Auburn area. Then they're going to widen it out to six lanes from the beginning of the Auburn Metropolitan Area into the Opelika area. There are two separate projects," Carroll explained.

Work on those two projects is scheduled for 2030.

Closer on the horizon is resurfacing a 15 mile stretch of I-65 in Chilton County.

Officials also revealed that the plug has been pulled on some of the plans for the Montgomery Outer Loop project due to funding.

"There's clearly not enough money that's going to be available or not foreseen right now to have that project in the work program. They've been asked to take it out of their regional long range transportation plan. So the only projects right now that are in the Outer Loop are the ones currently under construction into the Pike Road area. The other projects to extend it around to the west towards 231 are no longer in the work program," added Carroll.

ALDOT's work program mostly consists of bridge and resurfacing projects, not lane widening projects, because of funding.

Carroll said there are no plans currently to widen I-65.

The SWTP will be finalized after other upcoming public meetings in Hoover, Huntsville and Tuscaloosa.

The plan does not include a detailed listing of projects. The short-term State Transportation Improvement Program provides a prioritized list of projects. It has a four-year horizon and is updated annually.More information on the program can be found by clicking here.

The final report for the SWTP will be available in May for public review and comment. It will be posted under the "Information and Deliverables" sections of the SWTP web page.

Copyright 2017 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.