News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
FRIDAY, MAY 13, 2005


Interstate extension project too important for squabbling

About 30 members of the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce brought good news home from a lobbying trip to Washington, D.C., this week.

Members of the congressional delegation confirmed their support for an extension of Interstate 565 west from its current terminus at Interstate 65, which would resolve a major traffic problem for everybody.

Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, and Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, joined U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, and U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Huntsville, in expressing optimism for the project.

The proposal is important not just to Decatur, but also to Huntsville and, arguably, all of North Alabama, because it would provide better access to the property along Alabama 20 that is going to develop into a mixed-use zone.

So far, the congressional delegation has secured about $17 million for the project.

While the chamber has a plan that would extend I-565 west along the current Alabama 20 corridor, Mayor Don Kyle has proposed a slightly longer alternative to the north that would tie into U.S. 31 about a mile north of its junction with Alabama 20. No one mentioned the competing plans during the lobbying visit this week.

It is always nice to have a Plan B, if for no other reason than the possibility of running into unforeseen roadblocks in Plan A. But unity is vital.

Before construction begins, however, the Alabama Department of Transportation will make the final decision about the route after coming up with its share of matching funds.

Meanwhile, thanks to the chamber members who took the time to visit lawmakers and thanks to the congressional delegation for its pledge of support.

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