For more than 70 years there’s been talk of widening U.S. Highway 411, between Gadsden and Leesburg, and on Wednesday it was announced that project would be completed.
Additionally, there’s to be a connector of Interstate 759 to the intersection of U.S. 278 and U.S. 431. All told the two projects will cost more than $115 million.
John Cooper, director of the Alabama Department of Transportation, told members of the Gadsden/Etowah Metropolitan Planning Organization at the group’s meeting Wednesday that right-of-way acquisitions for the $65 million connector project would begin in October, and the construction contract let out by early 2023.
“It’s never happened because we never had the funding,” Cooper said Wednesday, referring to the widening completion of U.S. 411.
Cooper credited Gov. Kay Ivey and funding made possible by the Rebuild Alabama Act for being able to complete the long-awaited project.
“It’s going to look a ton different,” Cooper said of the widening project.
The $50 million widening completion of U.S. 411 could be completed by the end of this year, Alabama Rep. Ginny Shaver, R-Leesburg, told members at Wednesday’s meeting.
Shaver noted a 2015 study done by JSU that showed the widening project would pay for itself in 4 years through economic growth in the area after the work is complete.
Cooper said the Interstate 759 connector project is classified as a congestion mitigation project and would alleviate road congestion in Gadsden.
“For the whole 16 years I’ve been mayor, extending I-759 has been one of my major infrastructure goals,” Gadsden mayor Sherman Guyton said in a statement, provided by the City of Gadsden. “Throughout all the holds and delays over the years, my administration has continued to work to make this happen.”