Outgoing U.S. Senator Richard Shelby has long been celebrated for his ability to bring unprecedented amounts of federal dollars back home to Alabama, but the statesman may have saved his best gift to the city of Tuscaloosa for last.

Shelby did not seek re-election and will be replaced in the Senate in January by his long-time ally Katie Britt, who won the office in November.

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As one of his final acts, Shelby has stuffed 17 earmarks aiming to bring more than $650 million to Alabama into the $1.7 trillion 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which aims to fund the federal government until next fall.

The sprawling bill includes major victories for both Democrats and Republicans and is likely to pass before the Congress' makeup changes in January.

One of those earmarks sets aside $100 million for the Alabama Department of Transportation to replace the four-lane Woolsey Finnell Bridge, which has long been a priority of elected officials in and around Tuscaloosa.

"This project would eliminate a bottleneck on US-82 between a six-lane section of US-82 in the City of Tuscaloosa and the section of US-82 in the City of Northport that is currently under construction to widen to six-lanes with state funds," Shelby wrote to justify his request. 

If the bill passes, the bridge replacement will become one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects in the Tuscaloosa area in recent memory.

For updates on the bill's passage and from ALDOT and other agencies if and when the money is awarded, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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