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Public meetings held to discuss I-85 extension

A series of public meetings will be held this week regarding the proposed extension of Interstate 85 westward from Montgomery.

The Demopolis Civic Center will host a meeting on Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m. Other meetings this week will be held at the Coleman Center for the Arts at 630 Avenue A in York on Monday from 5 to 7 p.m.; at the Carl C. Washington Jr. Civic Center at 211 Washington St. in Selma on Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m.; and at Southlawn Middle School at 5333 Mobile Highway (U.S. Highway 31) in Montgomery on Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m.

All of the meetings are open to the public.

“The exhibits that they will have are really eye-popping,” said Ed Martin, who works with the public relations for the project through Volkert and Associates. “All of the state and federal engineers as well as Volkert’s team are expected to be available at all of these venues.”

There is also a Web site for people to gain information about the project, www.I85extension.com.

The proposed extension study area has the interstate following U.S. Highway 80 from Montgomery through Autauga or Montgomery counties, into Dallas, Perry, Hale and Marengo counties and connecting with Interstate 20/59 near York or Cuba in Sumter County.

Demopolis mayor Mike Grayson said one of the more popular routes has the interstate north of Uniontown, crossing U.S. 80 and running south of Demopolis, before crossing back near the Municipal Airport west of Demopolis.

“The economic impact of an interstate running through the Black Belt region would be tremendous,” Grayson said.

Martin said the extension would affect the entire state, not just in the transportation from the west into Alabama but north and south along U.S. 43, especially if the four-laning project comes into fruition.