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Abby Alexander, left, talks with Gov. Bob Riley as he signs autographs prior to the official opening of the four-lane expansion of Alabama 157 on Friday at Danville Church of Christ. Riley said completing the highway's widening was a priority for him.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Abby Alexander, left, talks with Gov. Bob Riley as he signs autographs prior to the official opening of the four-lane expansion of Alabama 157 on Friday at Danville Church of Christ. Riley said completing the highway's widening was a priority for him.

4 lanes at last: Riley leads cheering for wider Alabama 157

By Nancy Glasscock
nglasscock@decaturdaily.com · 340-2443

DANVILLE — Gov. Bob Riley was in town Friday to announce the completion of the widening of Alabama 157, a project he said was 40 years in the making.

"Ladies and gentlemen, you've got a four-lane now, and one that opens up the rest of the world to you," he said.

Riley, Alabama Transportation Director Joe McInnes and local elected officials gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Danville Church of Christ on the highway. The newest stretch of Alabama 157 gives drivers a four-lane highway from Interstate 65 in Cullman to Florence and through Mississippi via U.S. 72.

"It's going to make a dramatic difference in your lives," Riley said.

"It's going to make your life better, and that is what we're there for, to make your quality of life exceed what you had in the past."

Widening of the highway began in the mid-1980s and consisted of 26 preliminary engineering and design projects, 11 rights-of-way acquisition projects, 12 utility relocation projects and 24 construction projects with a total cost of $148.2 million.

"I'm just so proud that we have a four-lane stretch of highway coming through this part of the county," Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said.

Riley said he drove from Moulton to his home in Clay County every week in 1984.

"It used to irritate me to no end to have to go through there and see construction or lack of construction," he said.

Riley said since being elected in 2003 he made widening the highway a priority, spearheading the completion of about $57 million of work.

Sen. Zeb Little, D-Cullman, said the four-lane highway will make the road safer.

“We all probably have known someone who has been injured or killed on a two-lane road,” he said. “We need a four-lane highway on 157 to save precious lives, and I know this project will save lives in Alabama.”

The project will also boost economic development, Little said.

“This project will have as much impact on Morgan, Cullman and Lawrence counties as any project out there,” Little said. “I thank this administration and governor and transportation director because we all realize this project will benefit economic development in North Alabama.”

Charles Garner of Massey said he remembers surveying for power lines along the highway about 40 years ago when he worked for Joe Wheeler.

“I’m tickled to death to finally get this road built,” Garner said. “It has been a long time coming.”

Danville resident John Sterling said he “gave up hope” the project would be finished. In more than 20 years of living in Danville, he said, he has had a few relatives injured in wrecks on Alabama 157.

“This is a surprise,” he said. “It has been a very dangerous road.”

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