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I-565 widening could start Monday

The Interstate 565 widening project that eventually will make it easier to travel between the Decatur area and Madison County could start as soon as Monday, a state official said.

Clint Baker, an Alabama Department of Transportation design engineer, told the Decatur-area Metropolitan Planning Organization on Tuesday that Reed Construction crews are expected to begin putting up warning signs this week for the $14.3 million project.

The project will resurface about 6 miles of I-565 from just west of Exit 1 (Interstate 65) to just west of Exit 7 (County Line Road). Much of the widening will use existing shoulders to expand the highway to three travel lanes in each direction.

“They plan to start (work) on the west end near Interstate 65 and move east,” Baker said.

ALDOT spokesman Seth Burkett said Reed plans to start work in the eastbound lanes. He said the plan is to keep two lanes of I-565 open in each direction during the project by shifting traffic as was done during recent work on the I-565 Greenbrier exit.

The plan is to work at night whenever possible, Burkett said, but work on the road shoulders will need to be done during the day.

Traffic is prone to congestion on the western end of I-565, especially during rush hours, and the widening project is planned to ease that issue. Nearly 60,000 vehicles travel daily on I-565, according to a news release from Gov. Kay Ivey’s office last year that announced the project.

The widened road also will improve access to the $1.6 billion Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA plant that’s now under construction in the Greenbrier area of Huntsville-annexed Limestone County. The plant, expected to have about 4,000 employees, will start operations next year.

Reed has incentives in its contract to complete the project before mid-December 2021.

State Sen. Arthur Orr asked during the MPO meeting why the completion date is so far out, and Baker said Reed will have to rebuild about 1.5 miles of the shoulder near the Mooresville exit as it widens the road by about 8 feet.

There will also be some shoulder work on the east end of the project near County Line Road, Baker said.

Orr said the state needs to be making plans to widen the 2-mile portion of I-565 that will still be four lanes after the current project is complete. That part of I-565, which will stretch from County Line Road to east of the Wall Triana exit needs to be six lanes to prevent a bottleneck, he said.

Orr said one issue is the County Line Road overpass runs at an angle over this portion of the interstate and widening will require using a portion of the median. He said that project could cost more than $50 million.

“We need to have 565 widened from Interstate 65 to downtown Huntsville,” Orr said. “I’m told they (ALDOT officials) have a plan for working around the bridge.”

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Digital version of The Madison Record – Sept. 9, 2020

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