DOT Public Forum at Enterprise

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Could a long-awaited transportation project in the Wiregrass finally get off the drawing board?

Tuesday in Enterprise, the Alabama Department of Transportation held a public forum to discuss the option of making four lanes on Highway 167.

Alabama Highway 167 stretches from Western Panama City Beach into Troy in Florida. The road is designated as Highway 79.

Officials in both states have long sought the funding to four-lane the north-south hurricane evacuation route.

A spokesman with the Alabama Department of Transportation gave a summary of what can be expected over coming years. "We're trying to do a little each year on 167. We try to do the crucial parts first; eventually, four-laning from Troy to Enterprise," explained Don Vaughn with the Alabama DOT.

Rep. Seth Hammett (D) of Andalusia said Tuesday, "Florida officials have long sought four-laning of Highway 79 to the Alabama line, and then four-lane into Alabama."

Jessie Taylor is an auto mechanic at a business along Highway 167 in North Coffee County's Victoria community.

He has seen his share of tragedy on the two-lane route. "We got a nickname for 167, two nicknames: Daytona and Talledga; speeding right on top of you and you got to be careful," he says.

Local officials and business owners feel the four-laning of Highway 167 will eventually bring a tremendous economic benefit to the area.

A state DOT employee estimates it will cost several million dollars to four-lane each mile of highway. That’s up nearly 30-percent in just the last few years.