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Workers have finished building up the existing shoulders to expand Interstate 565 to three travel lanes in each direction. The next step is paving.

Resurfacing for I-565 widening project expected to start in a few months

The resurfacing phase of the Interstate 565 widening project should start in a few months, and all work could be finished before the fall, according to an Alabama Department of Transportation official.

“If all goes well, we hope to be completed around the end of August,” said Curtis Vincent, regional engineer with the DOT’s north region.

Huntsville-based Reed Contracting is the contractor for the $14.3 million project, which stretches about 7½ miles — from a half-mile west of Interstate 65 to a quarter-mile west of County Line Road.

According to Vincent, the contractor has mostly finished grading work and building up the existing shoulders to expand the highway to three travel lanes in each direction.

The next step in the process: putting down a stone-matrix asphalt layer and a second asphalt wearing surface, “with hopes that will begin in May when temperatures are high enough for paving to be done,” Vincent said. “We anticipate about three months of resurfacing.”

The project will improve safety for commuter traffic between Madison County and Limestone and Morgan counties “for the additional jobs that we have in the area, particularly the relief needed for the increased traffic from the Mazda Toyota complex,” said Bethany Shockney, president of the Limestone County Economic Development Association.

The $2.3 billion Mazda Toyota Manufacturing plant being built in the Greenbrier area of Limestone County is expected to create up to 4,000 jobs and build up to 300,000 vehicles a year. Production startup will be later this year, said spokeswoman Toni Eberhart.

Mazda Toyota had about 900 employees in December, according to Eberhart. “We are still hiring for production team members,” she said.

The I-565 project is part of the Rebuild Alabama program, announced by Gov. Kay Ivey in April 2019 and funded by a gas tax increase passed by the Legislature in 2019.

Another Rebuild Alabama project in the area is proceeding.

Miller & Miller of Huntsville submitted the low bid of about $2.83 million for the first phase of the planned expansion of Huntsville-Brownsferry Road/Alabama 304 — the widening of the bridge over Interstate 65 at Exit 347 in the Tanner area.

The contract for the bridge work was awarded at the end of October, according to Vincent, and it allows 140 working days for that project. The contractor started the process of removing the northern barrier rail on the bridge last week.

This week, the contractor will be closing lanes on I-65 to install concrete barriers in the work zone, according to DOT spokesman Seth Burkett. There will be southbound lane closures from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday (outside lane) and Tuesday (inside lane). Additional lane closures may be put in place the following days, but that is to be determined.

The widening of the bridge and approaches will set the stage for the next phase, in which additional lanes for Huntsville-Brownsferry Road will be built between U.S. 31 and I-65. “After the right of way is acquired, we’ll let a separate contract for grading to widen (the road) to five lanes from U.S. 31 to the bridge,” Vincent said.

“Enhanced transportation routes such as this will promote growth in that area south of Athens and particularly over on Highway 31,” Shockney said. “It will provide an additional access route for the influx of traffic that is inevitable from the multiple manufacturers in that area.”

In a separate project, the city of Huntsville will widen Huntsville-Brownsferry Road to Greenbrier Parkway.

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