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Crews Doing Preliminary Work on I-85 Expansion

Fri January 07, 2011 - Southeast Edition

SELMA, Ala. (AP) Archaeological crews and others are doing preliminary work on expanding Interstate 85 from Montgomery to the Mississippi line, but construction through west Alabama is still millions of dollars away.

David Webber, project manager of the engineering firm Volkert & Associates, said archaeological crews and environmental experts are working on an environmental impact statement for the preferred route for the 140-mi. highway, and that could take nine months.

He told the Selma Times-Journal that the preferred route could be adjusted based on the crews’ findings, such as a Native American burial ground or wetlands.

The preferred route runs from Montgomery to south of Selma before it turns north of Uniontown. Then it drops south of Demopolis and ends just north of Cuba at Interstate 20/59. Ed Martin, Volkert’s spokesman of the project, said the route avoids as many businesses, homes and farms as possible.

The completion of the environmental impact study doesn’t mean bulldozers will stretch out across the route to begin work.

The state has $100 million for the project, which is estimated to cost $2.4 billion. The $100 million might help purchase some right-of-way and pay other pre-construction costs, but the state needs more money for construction, Webber said.

“You might see a little, but not that much,” he said.