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Crews Replace 30-Year-Old Concrete on I-65 in Alabama

Thu June 23, 2011 - Southeast Edition
Cindy Riley

In an effort to improve driving conditions, crews in Jefferson County, Ala., are rebuilding the original, 30-year-old concrete roadbed on a more than 2-mi. (3.2 km) segment of Interstate 65. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

The project, estimated at $21 million, replaces the maintenance intensive segment of I-65 from the well-traveled I-459 to U.S. Highway 31. The project is part of Alabama Department of Transportation’s (ALDOT) Progress on Alabama Roadways campaign to preserve critical highway infrastructure. When finished, the new concrete surface will provide a smoother ride along one of the state’s busiest interstate corridors.

The first traffic impact began in mid-March, with the inside southbound lane closed for one weekend in the area where I-65 South crosses over I-459. The inside southbound lane was shut down to allow a safe zone for workers to upgrade the shoulder in the area so that future phases of work could be carried out.

Other early phases of work will result in outside shoulder upgrades on I-65 northbound and southbound, and will require the outside lane in both directions to be closed and blocked off by temporary concrete barrier walls to provide a safe work zone. Once the shoulders are upgraded, traffic will be shifted while rebuilding begins first on the northbound lanes, then on the southbound lanes.

ALDOT plans to minimize traffic impacts; however, the project will result in lane closures and traffic shifts throughout the duration of the project. It also will result in the use of alternate routes while exit ramps are closed to be rebuilt. Ramp closures will be done one at a time, ranging from a maximum of eight to 14 days each. ALDOT stresses that efforts will be made to minimize traffic impacts and avoid conflicts with holiday travel and major sporting events.

“We’ve worked hard to plan this Interstate 65 rebuilding project in a way that minimizes impacts on commuters and through-traffic as much as possible,” said Transportation Director John R. Cooper. “In 2008, the Tennessee DOT completely closed Interstate 40 in downtown Knoxville for more than a year for a rebuilding project. We’re moving forward with a plan that tries to keep at least two lanes open at all times. We believe this project will provide a high quality rebuild while still keeping I-65 open with single lane closures and short-duration ramp closures. We’ve studied a number of options, and this is the best plan for getting the job done.”

McCarthy Improvement Co. of Davenport, Iowa, is the general contractor on the job. The goal for completion is the end of December 2011. That means much of the work will be seven days a week, and at times will be 24 hours a day.

“The traveling public should go ahead right now and plan for impacts,” Cooper said. “There will be longer travel times, heavier congestion and some detours when ramp closures are necessary. Our goal is to be finished by the end of 2011, because we don’t want to impact commuters and travelers any more than necessary. The finished product, though, will be a rebuilt section of roadway in the place of a section that has required constant maintenance in recent years. This will be real progress for this area of I-65.”

A reduced speed limit of 45 mph is in effect throughout the 2.34-mile work zone. Motorists are urged to consider using alternate routes, to adjust arrival/departure times, to observe work-zone speed limits and work-zone signs, and use extreme caution in this area. CEG

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