Starting in January and stretching into 2020, Walker County residents wanting to travel to Birmingham's airport or to Atlanta will have to detour to Finley Avenue and then Carraway Boulevard as a …
Starting in January and stretching into 2020, Walker County residents wanting to travel to Birmingham's airport or to Atlanta will have to detour to Finley Avenue and then Carraway Boulevard as a major section of U.S. Interstate 59/20 will be closed in downtown Birmingham.
The detour will also affect traffic that would go downtown for the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) and other nearby areas.
Linda Crockett, a Birmingham-based spokeswoman for the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), confirmed an al.com story on Thursday, taken from a briefing giving by ALDOT officials earlier that day, that indicated I-59/20 in downtown will close for an estimated 14 months starting in mid-to-late January. If the closures remain on schedule, the interstate section would reopen in March 2020, with the entire project done by November 2020.
No exact closure date is know as a number of other factors still have to be determined. However, Crockett said public service announcements will start airing in the next few days about the project, which is resulting from construction to rebuild the aging interstate bridges downtown.
If contractors are early with the project, they will have an incentive of $250,000 per day. However, they will also be penalized $250,000 a day if they are late.
Crockett confirmed the path shown on the al.com story. Currently, Walker County drivers heading to the airport or to Atlanta would get off on U.S. Interstate 22 and head south on U.S. Interstate 65; they would then connect on I-59/20 and go east.
Now, heading down I-65, Walker County drivers will need to get off at Finley Boulevard and head east, and then go south on Carraway Boulevard before connecting back onto I-59/20.
One can go in that direction get to the downtown area in general in order to get to areas such as the BJCC. One could also go further south on I-65 before getting off and backtracking to downtown areas.
Meanwhile, al.com reported, "Eastbound traffic (from Tuscaloosa/Bessemer) will be detoured to the Arkadelphia Road exit to Finley Boulevard to Carraway Boulevard, where they can get back on the interstate. Eastbound drivers wishing to enter the city can still use the 17th Street North exit, or take I-65 South to 3rd Street South.
"To handle the increased traffic, an additional left turn lane has been added to Carraway Boulevard for drivers turning onto Finley Boulevard, and another right turn lane has been added to Finley Boulevard to turn onto Carraway Boulevard."
Updates will be posted on the project website, 5920bridge.com.