Interstate 59/20 through downtown Birmingham will close for an estimated 14 months beginning in mid- to late-January of 2019, according to the Alabama Department of Transportation, as contractors work to rebuild the aging interstate bridges running through the heart of the city.
If the closures proceed on schedule, the interstate would reopen in March 2020, with the entire project expected to be completed by November 2020.
DeJarvis Leonard, ALDOT’s east central region engineer, said an exact closure date can not be announced yet because there are “many moving parts to consider,” but will be announced as the shutdown approaches.
Once the bridges are shut down, the contractors will have 14 months to complete the project with a $250,000 per day incentive for finishing early and a $250,000 daily penalty if the project is not completed on time.
While the interstate is closed, ALDOT will be posting detours for traffic traveling through downtown Birmingham, but drivers are asked to avoid the downtown area if possible, particularly by using Interstate 459.
“We’re encouraging everyone to use 459 as much as possible,” Leonard said.
Traffic from I-59/20 west bound (from Atlanta/Gadsden) will be detoured to exit at Carraway Boulevard and take Finley Boulevard around the city, either to I-65 at the Finley exit or to get on 59/20 at the Arkadelphia Road exit.
Westbound drivers wishing to enter downtown can take the 25th Street exit, or exit onto the Red Mountain Expressway. Those exits are expected to remain open throughout most of the project, though Leonard said some temporary closures will be required.
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.
Leonard said that on Dec. 20, ALDOT will launch a public information campaign to raise awareness of the impending closures with television commercials, radio announcements and notices to trucking operations.
Updates will be posted on ALDOT’s project website, 5920bridge.com, which also has more detailed information on detours, the project history and more.