By Kim West
A clogged interchange on Interstate 565 will receive relief with the addition of another interchange at County Line Road.
During its Jan. 14 meeting, the Madison City Council authorized Mayor Troy Trulock to negotiate an agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation for the County Line interchange project.
The city and ALDOT will collaborate on the project, which provides Madison with a second access point to I-565 at County Line Road. The first access point is the Wall Triana Highway interchange, which was included in the original I-565 project completed more than 20 years ago.
“The Wall Triana interchange was done when I-565 was built, and Madison was just a spot on the map when it was done,” said Madison City Engineer Gary Chynoweth on Friday. “The reason there’s only one interchange — not counting the airport, which has its own access — we were literally just a crossroad on the map at the time.
“Certainly there has been significant growth since then, and we have a need for another interchange on East Wall Triana. The Wall Triana interchange is heavily congested with heavy traffic to Wall Triana, Hughes Road and County Line Road.”
ALDOT officials predict the new interchange will divert 3,000 vehicles a day, or about 18 percent of traffic, off the nearly at-capacity Wall Triana interchange.
The County Line half-diamond interchange would add two loops to connect with I-565, plus two gradual ramps, according to ALDOT plans presented during a Madison public meeting on Nov. 7, 2012.
The preliminary plans show the addition of an off-ramp for westbound drivers on I-565 to access County Line Road, and an entrance ramp from County Line to I-565 eastbound.
Presently westbound drivers on I-565 must exit at Wall Triana and travel west along Madison Boulevard to access County Line. Eastbound drivers on I-565 have access to an exit that provides a short route along Madison Boulevard to County Line.
Approximately 22,000 vehicles use the link of County Line at Madison Boulevard. Traffic at the bustling intersection could double by 2023 or 2033 if the city’s housing growth rate follows the rate of the preceding two decades.
Chynoweth said the County Line interchange would cost about $36 million after the cost of design, land acquisition and utility relocation is included. The city would pay 10 percent, or $3.6 million, while the state would be responsible for the remaining 90 percent, or $32.4 million. ALDOT is expected to begin the bid process in May, and construction work would begin in August.
“Once the agreement is negotiated and approved, it will be in design at the Montgomery (ALDOT) office,” he said. “Then we’ll begin land acquisition, and utility relocation is currently scheduled to begin in February. The state currently has the project (start date) scheduled for August of this year.”