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Projects total $18M

As Speaker of the House Seth Hammett begins the final year of what he says will be his final term in office, area residents can count more than $18 million for 55 projects brought home to this district in the current quadrennium.

“But who’s counting,” he quipped with a smile.

Those who enjoy driving on good roads should be. Hammett said the last segment of a project to four-lane Hwy. 55 from Andalusia to the interstate is well under way.

“I look forward to the day I can drive on a four-lane all the way to the interstate,” he said.

Similarly, progress continues on highway projects designed to improve Hwy. 84 and Hwy. 331.

The four-laning of Hwy. 331 continues. Hammett said about 30 miles of the 92-mile project are done.

“It’s now to the Montgomery County line,” he said. “It’s completed between Brantley and Luverne, and the Opp bypass is done.”

The 46-mile improvement of Hwy. 84 is all under construction except for four to six miles near Elba, he said.

Transportation has been a major focus for Hammett, who has successfully worked to bring airports and short-line railroads into the jurisdiction of the state Department of Transportation. In the 2009 legislative session, he said, the state’s inland waterways came under the jurisdiction of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

All of these factors are important for economic development, he said.

“If you are an industry and can move products on the waterways, that’s a truck that’s not on the road,” he said.

Another bill passed in the 2009 session set the stage for public-private partnerships for new transportation arteries, he said.

The legislature also expanded incentives attract to white collar industries to the state, he said.

“We are known worldwide for our incentives,” he said. “We’ve now added white collar jobs to the same incentive plan.”