Lighting project at Exit 79 nears start

Published 10:00 am Saturday, January 22, 2022

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Exit 79 on I-85 will be getting some major upgrades this year. A $2.2 million project will be bringing much-needed new lighting for the nighttime hours, and there will be new traffic signals going in at the Highway 29 interchange. Approximately $1.2 million of the funding will come from the federal government. The state of Alabama, Chambers County and the cities of Valley and Lanett will be picking up the remaining cost.

On Monday, the Lanett City Council approved a resolution committing the city to its portion of the project. The Valley City Council has a similar resolution on its agenda for its meeting this coming Monday evening.

Lanett and Valley will have equal shares of the cost of installation, operation and maintenance of the traffic control signals and the roadway lighting.

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“This is something that needs to be done,” said Mayor Leonard Riley. “It is really dark at that interchange at night. There’s been no major work on the lighting since the interstate first opened.”

A total of 17 light poles have come down over the years and the project will replace them.  LED lights will be installed. LED is considered both brighter and less expensive to operate than conventional lighting.

The new lighting will extend from the Chattahoochee River bridges to the bridges over Moore’s Creek. It will make for a better way to welcome travelers into the state during the nighttime hours and will highlight Alabama’s newest welcome center.

Bids for the project will be sought in February. A contract will be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder, and this much-needed work will be taking place not long after that.

Mayor Jamie Heard said that this is something that will benefit Lanett and the surrounding area. He’s glad to see it getting close to reality.

Lanett is looking for a new superintendent of utilities to succeed Tony Chandler, who recently retired. The position is being advertised.

“We hope to name someone to the position in the near future,” Mayor Heard said.

Most Lanett residents get their electricity, natural gas, water and sewer services provided by the city. Some city residents on the southwest side of town get their water from the Huguley Water Authority  and electricity from Alabama Power Company. These are areas that were annexed into the city after they’d been getting water from Huguley and electricity from Alabama Power.