The awarding of a $168.6 million contract by the Alabama Department of Transportation moves the day closer for U.S. Highway 78 in Mississippi and Corridor X in Alabama to become Interstate 22 – a Birmingham-to-Memphis artery slicing through north Mississippi.
The Associated Press reported that construction is expected to begin next week on the most expensive highway contract ever awarded by the Alabama Department of Transportation.
The $168.6 million project will provide 1.5 miles of ramps and bridges connecting Corridor X with Interstate 65 at Birmingham. It will feature an interchange 85 feet tall.
The department’s division engineer, Brian Davis, told The Birmingham News, “It’s absolutely the most complex project we’ve ever had in the Birmingham area. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Completion of the I-65 interchange – north of the I-20/I-59 interchange near downtown Birmingham – would qualify as the required connector for what’s also known as the I-22 Corridor to become an interstate.
But designation along its full length can’t happen until a critical interchange connecting the route to a downtown connector in New Albany is rebuilt to interstate standards.
Mark Holley of the Mississippi Department of Transportation said bids for the New Albany project will be awarded in 2011, with completion hoped for in 2013.
The I-22 route’s interstate connector in Mississippi is planned for an interchange with the new Interstate 69 in DeSoto County near the Marshall County line. That contract is not scheduled for letting until 2015, with completion projected in 2017, Holley said.
Atlanta-based Archer Western Contractors submitted the low bid for the Corridor X/I-65 project. It is supposed to be completed in 2014.
Joe Rutherford of the Daily Journal contributed to this report.
Joe Rutherford/NEMS Daily Journal