I-185 Extension Could Boost Economies

Business owners in Cusseta are both excited and concerned about plans to extend Interstate-185 past their doors. Government and business leaders in Albany, Georgia are spearheading a campaign to extend I-185 south, beyond Columbus.

The extension would run along State Highway 520 past Cusseta, and Albany and into Monticello, Florida.

Coleman's Food Store has been a staple in the Cusseta community for more than 40 years.

With the store just off busy Highway 520, owner Jacqueline Coleman says she's seen how progress can help towns prosper.

"I-185 has really done a lot of things for Columbus and East Alabama, so I can't see how it wouldn't certainly help places south of us that would be connected," said Coleman.

Extending I-185 wouldn't only connect towns, but bring more traffic and people through rural Georgia.

Zelma Owens owns a fragrance store just down the road from Coleman's.

She says the interstate could breathe new life into Cusseta's economy.

"Anytime you increase the potential people coming to the area, you'll increase the business," said Owens.

But the extension plans spark a few concerns.

Some business owners are worried about access to the interstate, while others say they're wary of how the government will use their property.

"D.O.T. does what they want to and it doesn't matter whether its something that's advantageous to you or not. They have that right, they take it, and that's it you know," said Coleman.

The Department of Transportation is planning to hire a consultant to see if there's a need for the interstate extension.

That evaluation could take six months to a year to finish.

If the project gets a green light, it could be pretty expensive.

Officials say the overpasses alone could cost as much as $25 million a piece.