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Hwy. project could alleviate traffic concerns

By By ANNA M. LEE Managing Editor
As the group's chairman, Brewton mayor Ted Jennings is working with the Florida-Alabama Strategic Task Force (FAST) on a highway expansion project that would benefit the area in three ways.
As Jennings mentioned at this week's city council meeting, FAST has sent out requests for proposals to about 12 firms as the first step in hiring a professional lobbyist to promote the group's interests.
That representative, which FAST expects to hire by mid-April, would inform decision-makers at the federal level about the need for expanding highways that run from Florida, through Brewton and to Interstate 65.
Roads targeted for four-laning at this point are Hwy. 87 from Milton and Hwy. 41.
One of the ways this would benefit Brewton is by tying the area to the interstate and the proposed Tri-County Industrial Park.
A truck route would branch off of Hwy. 41 outside of Brewton and reconnect with 41 on the other side of town, reducing the amount of log trucks and industrial traffic through downtown.
Finally, the highway expansion project would provide a better route for Florida residents leaving the state in the event of a hurricane evacuation.
As it stands now, Floridians who try to evacuate on Hwy. 87 and Hwy. 41 find the route slow and congested on the two-lane roads.
FAST was formed about five years ago to address the problems with travel between Florida and the Brewton area, but this is only the beginning, Jennings said, and specific details about where and when work could begin are still on the horizon.
Putting a lobbyist to work in Washington is the next step in this long process.
The expansion project would be a cooperative effort between Alabama, Florida and the federal government, but it's too early to say exactly how that collaboration would work.
FAST is made up of representatives from Escambia County, Ala., Escambia County, Fla. and Santa Rosa County, Fla.