Highway 80 landscape changing fast

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 27, 2005

DEMOPOLIS-Motorists passing over the rooster bridge may notice a lot less trees and a lot more concrete and steal. This week, the progress on the four-laning of Highway 80 fro Demopolis to Sumter County is making some of its most significant progress to date as work has begun on the new portion of the bridge.

Lou Wallace, who is an engineer on the project, said things have been progressing very well so far.

“They are moving right along with it,” Wallace said. “Right now they are clearing and they will do the base and pave later.”

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Wallace said there is till a lot of work in making sure all the proper procedures are followed. He said when this is complete they will begin on phase one.

“The plan is to go backwards from Bellamy to Highway 28,” Wallace said. “The other phases will include a materials test. We have hired a consultant to do soil surveys.”

The project is expected to progress steadily toward Mississippi. Wallace said the next phases in the project would be to move through Sumter County to the state line.

“The other paving plans include going from Bellamy to Highway 17 and eventually from Highway 17 to Cuba,” Wallace said. “It looks like they are moving right along with it.”

The Highway 80 project has been debated for many years by many public figures since the late 1950’s. All the while citizens and representatives at all levels have lobbied for the conversion of all U.S. Highway 80 to four lanes. The wait finally ended in February when it was announced by the Alabama Department of Transportation the work would be bidded out.

The letting date for the project was March 1, which left the last two phases the only thing standing in the way.

Putting a bridge across the river and putting the proper drainage in was one of the most challenging parts of the plan.

Once the proper drainage is in place work will begin on the road itself.

It is hard to put an estimate on how long it will take because there are two pieces to the project. However, most people are willing to be patient as long as they know the project is in the works.

Before the project began there were only about 29 miles of Highway 80 that were not paved. Almost all of them are in Alabama and much of that falls in Marengo and Sumter County. Highway 80 runs across the entire country from Savannah to San Diego.