MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — After 20 long years of construction, the $200 million state road has finally opened.
State Route 158 stretches from the Mississippi state line to Semmes off of Schillinger Road connecting with the rest of State Route 158.
“It’s one of those somebody needs to pinch me days because we have been waiting for so long, and finally it’s here,” Mobile County District 2 Commissioner Connie Hudson said.
Construction began in 2004 but hit a roadblock in 2007 when Mobile Bay Keeper filed a lawsuit against ALDOT alleging they violated the Clean Water Act in letting construction runoff go into the Big Creek Water Shed, which is Mobile’s water supply.
ALDOT Southwest Region Engineer Matt Erickson said that is no longer a problem.
“We have a fully contained system, so if there is a hazmat spill, it will be fully contained and won’t get into the drinking water,” Erickson said.
In 2022, this project received the 2022 Clearwater Alabama Annual Award of Excellence for showing good stewardship of Alabama’s natural resources by the control of erosion, sediment, and construction of stormwater infrastructure.
Funding also limited the timeline of construction, but in 2015, the project picked back up after the 2010 BP oil spill settlement fund was appropriated by Legislature to the SR 158-US 98 bypass.
“To see this day where it all comes together is a great feeling,” Erickson said.
Before, drivers had to take Highway 98 where the drive would be slowed down by traffic lights, business traffic and getting stuck behind 18-wheelers.
Bruce Beeger lives in Lucedale, Mississippi. He said the drive to Mobile before the road opened was painful.
“The traffic of 98 particularly in the summertime was really just stop and go,” Beeger said. “It was very frustrating trying to get towards Mobile, so the opening of this new highway is going to be a big-time saver.”
ALDOT said this will save drivers up to 30 minutes on their drive.