GADSDEN, Ala. (WIAT) – Relief is on the way for residents in Etowah County as the Alabama Department of Transportation formally announced Wednesday it will fully fund an interstate extension project.

Now called the Gadsden Eastern Connector – the project will extend I-759 to U.S. 431 in East Gadsden.

It’s a project city and state leaders said has been decades in the works. They said this approximately two-mile extension will help to open Northeastern Alabama for more development.

Brett Johnson uses U.S. 431 every day for work and to visit family in Hokes Bluff.

“We’re always on this road,” Johnson said. “You gotta go to Attalla to get to the interstate.”

Gadsden Public Affairs Coordinator Michael Rodgers said Mayor Sherman Guyton and his administration have been working on since he was elected as mayor.

“This is a way to sort of get some of that traffic for people commuting, for people passing through,” Rodgers said. “It’s a way to relieve some of that congestion on our already busy highways which has been a problem for a long time.”

State Senator Andrew Jones said this will all help with economic development. He has been involved with this project since before he took office.

“This is a key regional thoroughfare that we’re working on,” Jones said. “It’s going to have impacts on all the surrounding counties, it’s going to help get product to market, help avoid congestion, it’s going to help to develop our economy and our industries as they work to get their supplies in a timely manner.”

It’s a $65 million– fully funded through the Rebuild Alabama gas tax.

“It’s not worth it when I swipe my card at the gas pump but then in the long term when I cut down on my commute time to and from my family, to and from work, it might save me some gas,” Johnson said.

Jones said this will help to open Northeast Alabama to more business.

“The whole goal ultimately is to do what’s best for the whole county, the whole region, the City of Gadsden and get this project completed.” 

There is a lot of work to be done over the span of about five years according to officials. Land acquisition to extend the road should begin this fall with construction by the end of 2023 or beginning of 2024. Reporting live in Gadsden