Local mayors gather in support of new highway project
By WVUA 23 News Reporter Rachel Nadeau
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox met with Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson and Thomasville Mayor Sheldon Day to discuss widening U.S. Highway 43 from Mobile to Tuscaloosa. The mayors and other state and local leaders believe widening the highway will give businesses and people better access to the rural areas of the Black Belt. The meeting was held Tuesday in Thomasville.
Maddox said the West Alabama Highway Project means an economic boom across West Alabama and the other areas.
“So much of our commerce comes up from this region of the state and what we want to do is export – especially on the automotive side – that back into Mobile. Not only automotive but coal as well, which is important to this region,” Maddox said. “To the link the Port of Mobile and the City of Mobile to Tuscaloosa gives us another edge in many ways by keeping the top talent here that graduates from the University, Stillman or Shelton State, and keeping employees here to expand and enhance the businesses,” Maddox said.
Stimpson said completing construction of the West Alabama Highway offers a new option besides Interstate 65 for goods heading north from Mobile.
With the port expansion, “you can just visualize the increased commerce that we will have, and already we have traffic congestion on 65. And, yes, there needs to be things done to improve 65,” said Stimpson. “But it may the quickest and the least expensive thing to do is to fix 43 so that we have two routes coming out of Mobile for one of the biggest economic engines that we have for the entire state to be able to go north to connect to Tuscaloosa, I-22, on to Florence.”
The West Alabama Corridor Project will widen Highway 43 from two lanes into four, providing parts of the state access to a four-lane road for the first time. The construction will run from the intersection of SR-5 in Thomasville to the Linden Bypass, and on SR-69 from Linden Bypass to North of Moundville.
Fayette Mayor Rod Northam said the benefits of the four-lane highway connecting Mobile to Tuscaloosa and then heading north toward his city and Florence. Another project that has already been announced – the West Central Alabama Highway – will connect Fayette to Interstate 22.
Northam said because there is no four-lane highway through the western part of the state, many residents in north Alabama opt to travel through Mississippi to reach Alabama’s beaches.
“That’s tax dollars we’ve lost because they’re going to stop and get food, they’re going to stop and get gas and they’re going to come down another state and not come down a corridor that connects, hopefully one day, the Shoals to Mobile,” said Northam.
The estimated cost of the project is $760 million. Officials have not set a completion date yet. The groundbreaking for the project was held Nov. 12, 2021, and attended by Gov. Kay Ivey and area officials.