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Jul. 16—Motorists say travel westbound on a 7-mile stretch of I-565 has improved with the opening of a new third lane, but the highway's eastbound traffic will remain two lanes in Limestone County for a couple more weeks.
The three westbound lanes of Interstate 565 between I-65 and a quarter mile west of County Line Road are open to motorists and largely complete, according to Seth Burkett, spokesperson for the Alabama Department of Transportation's North Region.
"All paving except the final surface layer has been completed on all lanes of the westbound roadway," Burkett said. "Final paving on the westbound lanes will begin after eastbound paving is complete and take another two weeks or so."
Contract workers are in the process of paving the eastbound lanes and are expected to complete this portion of the project once weather has permitted them to put in "a week of good work," which has yet to be achieved, Burkett said.
A final surface layer will then be paved over the course of two weeks' worth of work, after which all three eastbound lanes will open to motorists.
"The additional outside eastbound lane will not be opened until final paving is complete," he said.
Even after all three lanes are open in both directions, finishing touches on the project such as striping may not be finished until late summer or the fall.
Burkett said rain and cold snaps since mid-May have proved to be a hurdle for workers paving the widened lanes.
"Despite excellent progress on the widening work last year, so far this year, weather has often been inconducive to paving, making progress on resurfacing sporadic," Burkett said. "Only in the last couple months did it start consistently warming up enough for paving with some regularity, but rain has continued to be a problem."
Several motorists at gas stations by the Hudson Memorial Bridge who use I-565 said the widened and newly paved westbound lanes have relieved traffic delays.
Ellen Nance, 66, of Decatur, takes I-565 to visit her niece in Madison once a week and said the third lane addition has greatly improved her commute on the interstate.
"(During) the busy time of rush hour going back and forth to work and ... going to visit somebody in Madison, on the way back you had to go bumper-to-bumper," Nance said of the route before the widening.
Once both directions are paved, all lanes will open to motorists, but workers will still need to finish striping the lanes.
"The new pavement must be allowed to cure prior to final striping, so it's possible final striping takes place in early fall, if not this summer," Burkett said.
Workers are paving the roadways from 6 p.m.-6 a.m. from Sunday through Thursday, and the project's final deadline is set for Dec. 17.
"It looks as though the project will still come in well ahead of that date," Burkett said.
— firstname.lastname@example.org or (256) 340-2437. Twitter @timmnail