Times staff report
After a year of repair work, the I-59/20 bridges curving through downtown Birmingham will re-open to traffic by Tuesday, January 21, according to the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT).
The bridges have been closed as part of a $700 million, three-part project to replace the aging interstates.
Governor Kay Ivey is scheduled to be part of a dedication of the bridges on Friday, January 17 and the bridges could re-open as early as Saturday, January 18 giving relief to commuters who spent the past year in traffic and finding alternate routes.
The bridges along I-59/20 and portions of I-65 through Birmingham’s Central Business District were constructed over 45 years ago and designed to handle 80,000 vehicles per day. The interstates now handle more than twice that amount and the stretch of interstate through Birmingham has the highest rate of traffic flow of anywhere in the state, ALDOT has said.
The completion of the bridges within a calendar year means the project’s contractor will collect a $15 million bonus. Crews spent the last month working day and night to meet the bonus deadline.
While the bridges should be re-opened to traffic no later than Tuesday, work to complete the streetscapes and sidewalks underneath the bridges has not yet started.
CityWalk, the park planned for underneath the bridges, is expected by fall 2021. Officials say they hope the park can serve as a connector for the communities on either side of the bridges.
Some residents say the bridges have isolated neighborhoods and created a clear boundary between downtown and the communities.