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Extended I-85 could pass through Lowndes

By Eason Franklin
The Lowndes Signal

A proposal to extend Interstate 85 west from Montgomery could bring the highway through Lowndes County, according to plans presented at a series of public meetings held in the Black Belt region last week.
The concept, with origins as dating back as far as 1968, has now reached the final planning phases and would extend Interstate 85 from I-65 in Montgomery County to I-20/59 in Sumter County. The project is being studied by Volkert and Associates Inc., a U.S. consulting firm.
The preferred route would cross the upper part of Lowndes County with interchanges at U.S. Highway 21 near Hayneville, County Road 97 near Lowndesboro, County Road 17 near Trickem and County Road 9 on the south side of U.S. Highway 80.
“It’s going to be a good project whatever it comes to,” said Lowndes County Engineer David Butts.
Mosses Mayor Walter Hill said the project would provide a welcome economic impact by providing opportunities for new business revenue.
Some residents on County Road 97 have different views of the proposal.
“We like our area the way it is. The quieter the better,” said homeowners Fred and Betty Strickland.
“It will change our entire lives,” said Dottie Skipper. “I think it should be taken into consideration the history of the people who have lived on the land for hundreds of years.”
A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) April 30 for the public to review potential economic, social and environmental effects of the project and distributed at recent public meetings in Demopolis, Selma, Montgomery and York.
The I-85 extension would consist of four 12-foot lanes, 10-foot paved outside shoulders, six-foot paved inside shoulders and a 90-foot depressed, grassed median, according to a release by Volkert at its July 22 public hearing.
No money has been secured for the construction of the project and no final decision on the precise route has been made, according to Brian Ingram of the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT).
Citizens can voice their comments through Aug. 23 by mail to Mr. David Webber, P.E., Project Manager, 3809 Moffett Road, Mobile, Al 36618 or email to i85@volkert.com.
Additional information on the project can be found at www.i85extension.com.