Gadsden, AL – The Alabama Department of Transportation formally announced the funding of the Gadsden Eastern Connector, a project formerly known as the Interstate 759 extension, at a meeting of the Gadsden/Etowah Metropolitan Planning Organization on Wednesday.
The project is the culmination of decades of work by the City’s administration and local legislative delegation.
“For the whole 16 years I’ve been mayor, extending I-759 has been one of my major infrastructure goals,” said Gadsden mayor Sherman Guyton. “Throughout all the holds and delays over the years, my administration has continued to work to make this happen.”
During Wednesday’s meeting, ALDOT director John Cooper thanked Guyton for his efforts and work through the years. Guyton also presented Cooper with a key to the city.
The project will include roughly two miles of divided four-lane highway with curb and gutter from the end of I-759 to the intersection of U.S. Highway 431 and U.S. Highway 278.
The estimated cost of the project is $65 million, and it will be fully state-funded through Rebuild Alabama funds.
“We believe spending this roughly $65 million will enable us to take pressure off Meighan [Boulevard], through downtown Gadsden, and provide a better travel experience for people who are commuting every day and people who are simply driving through,” Cooper said.
The project is currently under design and Cooper said he expects right-of-way acquisition to begin in October, with a goal to let the project for construction in late 2023 or 2024.
“It will have a profound effect on the future economic development of Etowah County and the surrounding counties. And there will be a positive impact on most of northeast Alabama as well,” said Rep. Gil Isbell, a member of the local legislative delegation who represents Gadsden and was recognized for his support of the project.
Legislators Rep. Craig Lipscomb, former Rep. Becky Nordgren and Sen. Andrew Jones were also recognized.
Another part of the meeting was to update the MPO on the status of the four-laning of U.S. 411 between Gadsden and Centre.
Around $100 million in total has been available for these projects through the Rebuild Alabama Act, which was passed in 2019 and dedicates a portion of new gas tax revenue for local projects.
Rep. Ginny Shaver, who represents Cherokee County, gave credit to Gov. Kay Ivey and Director Cooper for the huge economic impact that four-lane access to the interstate will have for Cherokee County and the success of Rebuild Alabama as a whole.
The U.S. 411 project began in Dec. 2020 and is expected to be completed in Aug. 2023. It is currently about halfway complete, and the contract amount is $34.3 million.