Lawmakers urge ALDOT to catch up to Mississippi, four-lane U.S. Highway 45 from state line to Mobile
For nearly a century, the route that is now Alabama’s portion of U.S. Highway 45 has stretched from downtown Mobile to the Alabama-Mississippi state line, initially parallel to the old Mobile and Ohio Railroad line. Although there have been some subtle changes in the actual route, and, obviously, many coats of asphalt over the decades, the route remains true to form.
After a 278-mile jaunt down from the Tennessee-Mississippi state line down the eastern portion of Mississippi on a four-lane highway, southbound U.S. Highway 45 travelers are welcomed to Alabama by a narrowing from four to two lanes, and a sign posted “Welcome to Sweet Home Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey.”
Although it shows some signs of age, the portion of U.S. Highway 45 from Meridian, Miss. to the Alabama-Mississippi line, a route possibly familiar to Alabama football fans driving up from Mobile to Tuscaloosa through Mississippi, was completed in 2007.
When the state legislature raised the fuel tax in the early 1990s, the route was statutorily mandated for improvement to Mobile. However, the language was removed.
“There never was a justification,” State Rep. Brett Easterbrook (R-Fruitdale) said during an interview with FM Talk 106.5 in Mobile. “They opened the bill and removed the words. There was no justification behind it.”
Easterbrook blames a lack of voters in the vicinity for the deprioritization of the route.
“It has been far down the list for years,” he said. “It is the deadliest highway in the state of Alabama. My belief is it is down the list because of the number of voters in that area of the state. North of I-65, there’s not a four-lane highway all the way to I-20 with the exception of [U.S. Highway] 43. It becomes a pig trail at Thomasville. We can’t go north, we can’t go east, and we can’t go west. Highway 45 is four lanes from the Mississippi to Chicago.”
“It would also serve as an evacuation route for hurricanes if it were four lanes,” Easterbrook added. “There’s really no excuse for this not to have already been done.”
State Rep. Shane Stringer (R-Satsuma) also says it is time for Alabama to catch up with Mississippi.
He told FM Talk 106.5 that he has met with Gov. Kay Ivey, Ivey chief of staff Jo Bonner and Alabama Department of Transportation director John Cooper to keep it “fresh in their minds.”
However, he also said officials at ALDOT appear not to be convinced of the project’s urgency, given it is not considered one of the top 10 projects under consideration.
“It is the deadliest highway in Alabama,” Stringer said. “We’re reminded of that about once a month. We have a major wreck up here. Somebodies’ lives are changed, but we’re constantly reminding them of it. I’m constantly meeting with ALDOT. I did get a list of the top 10 projects in Alabama, and Highway 45 is not on that list. Just trying to work on to see what we can do to get that, working with the other politicians, legislators trying to get as much assistance as I can to put pressure on the governor and the state to do something with this.”
@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.