Officials Break Ground On Outer Loop Project


By Lisa Blackwell

Officials turned the dirt on a road project that’s been twenty years in the making.

Wednesday, crews started work again on the first leg of the I-85 extension project.

A highway project that’s been on again and off again is back on again. Federal, state and local officials broke ground on phase one of a stretch of road known as the Montgomery Outer Loop, which will run from I-85 to Vaughn Road.

Gordon Stone, Mayor, Pike Road, says “There are twenty two neighborhoods in the town of pike road that will have access to this road and will be able to go to the city of Montgomery or to Auburn or Atlanta without even having a red light, there are over 1500 residents today and another 1500 lots planned right here in this area that will be able to access their jobs and their lifestyles will be improved by having this road here.”

Bessemer based R.R. Dawson Bridge Company will realign portions of Highway 80 and state Route 126, make ramp changes at the Waugh exit and build several overpasses and bridges.

Officials say the restart of this project will give a boost to Alabama’s economy. For one thing, the contractor says they will be employing around one hundred people on this job.

Secondly, Governor Robert Bentley says it’s not just the project, but its impact, that will help the local economy.

Gov. Robert Bentley,(R) Alabama, says “Building roads in the state are very important to creating jobs and it’s not just creating jobs while the road is being built, it’s creating jobs as the road is being used.”
Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez says if lawmakers pass jobs legislation, more roads like this one could be constructed and more people could be put to work.

Victor Mendez, Federal Highway Administrator, says “If Congress passes the American jobs Act it will upgrade one hundred fifty thousand miles of road so that people all over the country will see the benefits as were going to see here on the outer loop, there will be more jobs for today, safer and less congested travel for tomorrow.”

Meanwhile local residents say it’s good to see the stalled project moving forward again.

Alma Bowan, Area Resident, says “I can’t say I’m happy, I can say I’m happy that it’s come to the end of this journey for the last twenty years but to say that I’m happy, I’m just happy to see that we’re doing something.”
The work started now is expected to be complete by December 2014.

However, paving the road way between I-85 and Vaughn Road, wont’ start until the end of this project and will take up to two years to complete. That means it could be another five years before the route is open to traffic.

The estimate for joining the outer loop to I-65 is around five hundred million dollars.

The long range plan is to extend I-85 all the way to I-59 near the Mississippi line.