FLORENCE — Lauderdale County officials credited a "total team" effort as the key to a nearly $14.9 million federal grant to expand a section of U.S. 72 east of Florence.

The Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development grant of $14,880,000 comes with a state match of some $5 million.

"There are so many people to thank," County Commission Chairman Danny Pettus said. "This is a major deal for our county."

The project just east of Florence would expand a 1.5-mile section of U.S. 72 that decreases from six lanes to four lanes, and then goes back to six lanes. The project would make that entire stretch six lanes.

That area is between Indian Springs and Harris Drive.

The county had received good news a couple of weeks ago when the Alabama Department of Transportation would provide the $5 million match. County officials had thought the state would provide $4 million and the county $1 million.

County Engineer Eric Hill said that section of U.S. 72 saw a volume of approximately 34,000 cars a day in 2018. He said much of the pre-engineering work is completed.

Pettus went to Washington, D.C., in September and met with Alabama congressmen, including Sen. Richard Shelby's staff, Sen. Doug Jones, Rep. Mo Brooks and Rep. Robert Aderholt.

They all agreed to write letters recommending the project.

In addition, Gov. Kay Ivey wrote a letter stating this project is a priority for the state.

Pettus said the Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments and Alabama DOT played large roles in the effort. He said Jesse Turner, director of Planning and Transportation, along with ALDOT "did a great job writing this grant."

Executive Director Keith Jones said, to his knowledge, this is the largest grant project his agency has ever worked since its existence in 1967.

Jones said it took numerous agencies and individuals to make it happen.

"This was a total team effort with the whole Shoals area coming together," he said. "It was a perfect team effort.

"Everybody was on the same page, working for the common goal. When we put together a team effort like that, we're very successful."

bernie.delinski@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5739. Twitter @TD_BDelinski

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