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Jemison closer to getting I-65 lights

JEMISON – Lights for I-65 Exit 219 could be on the way soon.

Alabama Department of Transportation director Joe McInnes informed Rep. Jimmy Martin yesterday that the bid for the lighting project for the Jemison-Thorsby exit should be awarded Sept. 26.

Martin said in a phone interview yesterday that the project will be “let,” meaning the sealed bids will be opened by ALDOT and the lowest bid will receive the project. The cost is expected to be about $1.2 million including 130 lights and about 13 light posts.

Construction on the project will likely begin at the beginning of 2009.

Jemison Mayor Eddie Reed said lighting is a key to business development along the exit.

“Lights are crucial to the development of our exit,” Reed said. “That has been the first question anyone has asked if they were interested in putting a business on the exit. We’re thankful this project is finally going to be let.”

Reed attributes the success of acquiring funding for the project to Congressman Spencer Bachus and his aide, Betty Bennett. Reed also said city leaders’ trips to Washington have made a difference in getting funding.

The money is being paid from federal grants funneled through ALDOT.

“This is highway department money. You can spend highway money only on roads,” Reed said.

Additional highway improvements could be on the way for Jemison. Reed said the expansion of I-65 from four to six lanes through Jemison has also been added to the Fiscal Year 2010 budget.

“The six-lane project was going to stop at Calera. We asked why, and they told us that no one from Chilton County had requested it,” Reed said. “So, we asked them to extend it into Chilton County.”

With all of these projects, Reed is hoping that this will lead to additional business development.

“We have [one of] the only exit[s] between Alabaster and Montgomery that hasn’t fully been developed,” Reed said.