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ALDOT honors former employee James Brown with I-22 memorial ceremony

Dr. Brown and family stand behind the James Brown Memorial Highway sign that was unveiled on I-22 Friday.
Members of the James Brown family with the newly unveiled I-22 memorial sign.
Mar 15

The Alabama Department of Transportation honored former employee James Brown at the Interstate 22 Memorial Highway Dedication Ceremony held at Hamilton City Hall on Friday, March 15.

Brown served ALDOT for 52 years before retiring on April 30, 2022. He passed away May 8, 2022.

West Central Region Engineer Wallace McAdory headed the one-hour ceremony in front of approximately 40 people, including current and former ALDOT employees, local and state representatives and Brown’s family.

The memorial signs were placed on I-22 eastbound at milepost 1.1, near the Mississippi state line, and westbound at milepost 38.4, the Walker County line.

“He left a legacy within the department,” McAdory said. “Mr. Brown was the finest gentleman I’ve ever worked for. He always said that he liked what we did when we did it well and that it was our responsibility to get babies back home to their mamas every night.”

Brown began work with ALDOT in 1970. He served as assistant project engineer, project engineer and district engineer in the Tuscaloosa Area. In 1979, he became the division maintenance engineer in Birmingham before serving as the construction and materials engineer. He was division engineer in Tuscaloosa prior to being appointed as the state chief engineer in 1994. He was also appointed division engineer in Tuscumbia in 1996. He was then selected as the West Central Region engineer in 2014, where he served until retirement.

Brown played a vital role in the construction of Interstate 22 that enhanced mobility and economic development to underserved areas. The undertaking began in the late 1970s and finished in 2016 to span more than 96 miles from Marion County to Jefferson County.

“I’d like to say James trained me to be the director,” ALDOT Director John Cooper said. “He was a great roadbuilder, manager and human being. James cared about people. If there were any discipline issues, James would say, ‘Let me talk with him and see if I can straighten him up. That ol’ boy needs a job and might need some help.’ He truly cared by how he lived.”

Dr. Nathan Brown, who resides in Louisiana, returned to Hamilton with his family to honor his father. Dr. Brown said his father loved what he did and loved the people who surrounded him.

“His passion was service,” Dr. Brown said. “He turned down many private opportunities because he loved Alabama and wanted to help her grow. He loved those he worked with, and if he were here today, he’d thank you.”