$14.2 million highway grant will fund key Decatur overpass

(Source: WAFF)
Published: Dec. 7, 2018 at 7:03 PM CST
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DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - A federal grant will fund a new overpass near the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing plant that’s currently under construction.

The $14.2 million grant will be used to build the bridge at the intersection of Alabama 20 and Bibb Garrett Road in Limestone County. The project also includes ramps, a new access road, improved highway lighting, and accommodations for safe pedestrian access.

“There will be deceleration and acceleration lanes to be able to access the overpass that will give you access to the north and south sides of Highway 20,” said Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling, who thanked the entire team of people who worked on the grant process.

Senator Richard Shelby made the announcement Friday that Decatur landed the large amount of funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The area to be developed is the same stretch of land that was once tapped for a development that would have included a Bass Pro Shops. Talks of the Sweetwater development ended in late 2014 due to legal issues and missed deadlines.

[READ MORE: Efforts ramping up to draw Mazda Toyota suppliers]

Mayor Bowling said the city is excited about the opportunities the new project will bring to Highway 20, a stretch of road many travel going in and out of Decatur once Interstate 565 ends.

“This area is the new Decatur but also there’s a safety factor to be able to have development here and be able to safely access them. We’ve had a number of fatalities here on this stretch of road and we’re frequently dealing with accidents so it’s a wonderful thing,” he stated out at the site on Friday.

The mayor says it’s the most important grant the city has received in decades.

“For what this does to be able to give us access to this development. For us to come up with those funds would have been very challenging. For the Department of Transportation to see the need is great. The first time we submitted, we won the grant! It’s very competitive. That is not the norm. We are very honored,” he said.

The announcement of the federal grant comes as cities in north Alabama are preparing to meet the future needs of the Toyota Mazda plant and its suppliers.

Decatur is now in the process of putting a zoning plan in place.

“This is probably the hottest intersection along Interstate 65. We know there’s going to be a lot of traffic coming to Mazda Toyota and the Tier 1 and Tier 2′s, everything that it’s going to take to support that. It’s going to be a great help but I really believe it’s going to be more about the development of this area. This is mixed use. It’s almost the size of southeast Decatur,” Mayor Bowling explained.

The grant is made available as part of the DOT Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD) Grant program, which focuses on economic development and infrastructure improvements.

“This $14 million BUILD grant is great news for the city of Decatur and the surrounding region. The funding will allow for much-needed improvements and enhancements to the current infrastructure in Decatur,” said Senator Richard Shelby. “As Alabama’s transportation needs evolve, it is important that we find ways to support rapid growth, especially in rural areas. I am looking forward to working with my colleagues and the DOT as we continue to prioritize the infrastructure needs of the state and the nation.”

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