On Monday night, the Shelby County Commission announced that construction on a portion of Interstate 65 from just north of Alabaster to Calera will begin next year and continue into at least 2027 to widen the roadway as it is frequently backed up.

According to the Shelby County Reporter, the project will be divided into three segments. The middle segment consists of the stretch of interstate around the Shelby County Airport. The north segment runs from there to Exit 238, whereas the south segment runs from the airport to Exit 231. 

Workers will begin development on the north and south segments next fall, but the middle segment won’t start development until Spring 2025. 

The widening of I-65 has been a point of contention for Alabama residents and government leaders, including Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, who has expressed dissatisfaction with the traffic jams plaguing the interstate several times over the last year. In May, he suggested that the interstate should be a higher priority than other infrastructure projects in the state, such as Gov. Kay Ivey’s West Alabama Corridor that would link Mobile and Tuscaloosa. 

Even former President Donald Trump promised to make the interstate six lanes during the Alabama Republican (ALGOP) Party’s Summer Dinner.

Ivey announced the plan to widen the section of I-65 between Alabaster and Calera in August. She said the project would cost around $300 million, $20 million of which will be provided by the Shelby County Commission, City of Alabaster, City of Calera and 58 Inc. 

Ivey mentioned that the project requires eight bridges, which imposes a larger financial burden on the project.

“The expansion of I-65, including work on three bridges and improvement to the airport exit, will have a tremendous impact on the residents of Shelby County,” said Shelby County Commissioner Ward Williams to 1819 News. “This expansion will especially benefit those in Alabaster and Calera. The leadership of the County Manager and County Engineer, along with partnerships with City of Alabaster, City of Calera, and 58 Inc. working together with State leaders, made the start of this project possible.”

“The expansion of I65 will propel economic growth, expansion opportunities, and quality of life improvements that will be felt for generations,” he continued. “This is a great example of the many benefits that collaboration can bring to the community.”

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email will.blakely@1819news.com or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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