Alabama Department of Transportation planning for I-65 widening
The Alabama Department of Transportation is taking steps to widen I-65 from the U.S. 31 exit in Alabaster to Shelby County 52 in Pelham.
The 3.5 mile stretch of interstate is four lanes now -- two going north and two going south. There are plans to widen it to eight lanes -- four going north and four going south.
At its last meeting, the Shelby County Commission approved a standard agreement with ALDOT regarding the widening, which usually signals that ALDOT will soon start accepting bids from companies interested in doing the work.
Brian Davis, a division engineer, said ALDOT doesn't have funding in place to do the $50 million project, but is getting everything in order so it can be ready to go out for bids if funds become available.
"We're finishing up everything we can do so we can be ready to let the contract if money becomes available," Davis said.
The designs for the widening are finished, he said.
But Davis emphasized that the steps being taken by ALDOT does not mean the start of widening is imminent.
The project is penciled in for fiscal year 2016 on ALDOT's five-year plan, but could be done sooner.
In the Birmingham Metropolitan Planning Organization's 2035 plan, which was put together a few years ago and will soon be updated, the project was due to be funded in fiscal year 2012, but that changed, said Michael Kaczorowski, principal planner for transportation at the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham.
MPO approved ALDOT's request Wednesday for $600,000 that ALDOT says it needs to purchase right-of-way for the widening project.
"That's good news, in the sense that they are moving forward," said Kaczorowski. "They're going to be ready when funds become available." By taking the necessary steps now, it would be a matter of weeks or months to get construction started, he said.
The widening from the U.S. 31 exit in Alabaster to Shelby County 52, commonly known as the "tank farm" exit, would pick up where the recent widening of the interstate from Valleydale Road to Highway 52 stopped.
The next phase would be from the U.S. 31 exit in Alabaster to the Shelby County Airport exit.