By David PalmerThe Cullman Times
The bid letting to kick off construction of the County Road 222 interchange is expected to be Friday.
County engineer John Brunner said at Tuesday morning’s Cullman County Commission meeting the project remains in the estimated $6 million to $7 million range. The project, which will provide a direct connection to Interstate 65, may take two years or more to complete.
Nonetheless, the much-anticipated interchange opens up potential development for Good Hope and Cullman. The project’s approval was also a key factor in the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame Board of Directors’ decision to choose the area for its location.
“We’re thrilled with the state going forward with this project. Without the interchange we wouldn’t have the ability to attract the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame,” said Cullman mayor Max Townson.
Good Hope mayor Corey Harbison has also noted the traffic flow from the interstate provides opportunities for commercial development and growth for many years for his city.
Both cities have been anticipating the official letting of the project. State Sen. Paul Bussman, R-Cullman, was a key player in securing the state’s commitment to the project.
The idea of the interchange dates back to the arrival of Topre into the area as a major industrial player. Cullman city officials said the state promised to build the interchange when Topre agreed to locate in the area. The company, which manufactures components for major automobile companies, now employees well over 700 people.
“The value of the this project for local industries is tremendous,” Townson said. “Not only does it help Topre, but it’s also going to be important to Wal-Mart Distribution Center and the industrial park. This will actually be good for the entire area.”
The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame’s board has hired a professional fundraising company to raise money for construction of its facility. The plan is for the hall of fame to include an aquarium, displays, and several lakes on the property for demonstrations, teaching and research.
Cullman officials are also considering the addition of a civic center that would attach to the hall of fame, thus adding the capacity for a greater stake in the convention and tourism trade.
Contacts have also been made with Auburn University about using the hall of fame facilities for research and conservation promotion in the state.
The hall of fame, if successful in raising funds, would likely be finished around the time the interchange is complete.