State and local officials came together in mid-November for the groundbreaking on the first phase of the new West Alabama Corridor project, a $758 million four-lane highway that will stretch from Tuscaloosa south to Mobile in a rural part of the state.
Gov. Kay Ivey first announced the construction during her 2021 State of the State address on Feb. 2.
WVUA 23, a Tuscaloosa TV station, reported that the project's first phase is to be called the Linden Bypass, where crews will be adding two additional lanes to the existing U.S. Highway 43 to south of the town of Linden in Marengo County.
Widening will continue north along U.S. 43 to Linden, and then will bypass on the east side of town following the previous Linden Bypass alignment.
North of Linden, the project is designed to add a pair of new lanes to the existing two lanes of U.S. 69, before crossing U.S. 80 and continuing north on U.S. 69 through Greensboro, where it will connect with the existing four lanes of U.S. 69 north of Moundville.
The second and third portions of the West Alabama Corridor Project consist of a southern portion beginning at U.S. Highway 43 in Thomasville that runs north to the south intersection with the completed Linden Bypass, and a northern portion beginning from the north intersection with the Linden Bypass to U.S. Highway 69 north of Moundville.
Construction on the road project is set to begin in earnest next spring, WVUA 23 reported. Projections are that it will take five years to build.
Hopes Are New Road Will Boost Safety and Economy
"Today the people of Alabama have come together to make this happen [and] I am certainly proud to be a part of it," Ivey said at the groundbreaking. "Turn some dirt, and then we are going to turn another chapter in the pages of our history and our growth in the black belt."
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox and Thomasville Mayor Sheldon Day called the corridor a historic move.
"I really want to commend the governor for making this happen," Maddox said in his remarks. "Ultimately, it required leadership and you saw all the different groups working together. Cities, counties, Republicans, Democrats — this is what it's about and I'm proud of our state, and I'm very proud of what this project is going to do for Alabama."
"We've got to be ready," he said. "If this takes 10 years to build, we need to start today, gearing up our communities so we can best take advantage of the opportunities this new corridor will bring us."
The West Alabama Corridor Project will provide connectivity to rural counties that lack four-lane access to the interstate system. The effort is part of the Rebuild Alabama Act of 2019, which raised the state's gas tax 10 cents to repair and expand road and bridge infrastructure.
Linden resident Linda Hudson said she has heard talk about the road expansion for a long time.
"I taught school here for years and I have been hearing about this for about 35 years, so it's about time for it get done," she told the Tuscaloosa TV station.
Earnestine Burrell, also from Linden, added that she is excited about the project because U.S. 69, in its current condition, is dangerous.
"I've known too many people to get killed and this project is going to make that trip to Tuscaloosa a whole lot safer," she said.
Others living in and around Linden hope that the West Alabama Corridor Project will be a great economic boost for the area.
"Overall, it may help Linden tremendously," said Celena Dunn, another Linden citizen, in her remarks to WVUA 23. "We may even get another mill or two. Economically, we might be in good shape."
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