U.S. 80 promise nothing but rumor

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 13, 2003

On April 1, 2002, Hyundai Manufacturing Co. announced it would build a $1 billion facility in Hope Hull. And though Demopolis is nearly two hours from the plant site, economic leaders in this region believed Marengo County would receive a boost from the new industry.

Obviously, economic developers here felt some spin-off industry could come this way. More importantly, though, leaders thought this would be the announcement that finally made a 50-year dream come true.

Kathy Leverett, head of the Chamber of Commerce and Industrial Development Board in Demopolis, heard the rumors just like everyone else did.

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That rumor was simple, yet gratifying: As part of Alabama’s incentives package for Hyundai, U.S. Highway 80 would be completely four-laned &045;&045; both in Uniontown and from Demopolis to I-59/20 near Meridian.

Some economic developers went so far as to say that even if this area didn’t get a spin-off industry from Hyundai, the reward of getting U.S. 80 four-laned would be enough.

Anita Archie, chief counsel of the Alabama Development Office, put to rest the rumors about whether the U.S. 80 incentive is true.

Though that news means there is no deadline for getting the important industrial project completed, the Alabama Department of Transportation has made progress on U.S. 80, both in Uniontown and to the West of Demopolis.

Jerry Holt, division engineer for ALDOT, said earlier this year that construction on a six-mile stretch of U.S. 80, beginning at State Road 28 in Marengo County extending to State Road 28 in Sumter County, will begin in November 2004.

Depending on an environmental study and the public’s input, Holt said the project could be moved up if things go smoothly.

Along with that important stretch of highway, ALDOT also is in the middle of surveying a bypass around Uniontown. Though there are no specifics on when that project might be completed, ALDOT has confirmed that the road will bypass Uniontown to the North.