I-59/20 bridge construction congests downtown Birmingham area, causing increase in car crashes

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The I-59/20 bridge construction hasn’t just slowed down traffic during rush hour, it’s also forced large vehicles like semi-trailer trucks into narrow downtown roads.

While the construction is moving ahead of schedule, drivers can still expect to deal with detours well into early next year.

With much of the traffic re-routed through Carraway Boulevard, local businesses have seen an increase in wrecks. Just this weekend, there was a fatal crash on Carraway.

“Just about every day, every other day, two to three times a week. There’s a least a fender bender or these 18-wheelers trying to make turns and the cars aren’t working with the 18-wheelers,” said Joseph Hines, a technician at Pearson Brothers Tire Center.

Even Darrell O’Quinn, chairman of city council’s Birmingham Transportation Committee, has dealt with the repercussions of heavy traffic and construction.

“Myself, I got in a traffic accident on Carraway and 5th avenue North, just last week,” O’Quinn said.

O’Quinn said since the construction is temporary, there isn’t a short-term fix to keep semi-trucks from passing through downtown.

“Long term, we’ll reinforce the idea that our streets are not made for these large vehicles,” he said.

However, there has been a silver lining to the road closure: a spike in sales for businesses located on the detour routes.

“For us, it’s actually picked up our business. Clientelle we normally don’t see a lot of, especially from the Gardendale and Fultondale end of it…” Hines said.

Hines said daily sales at Pearson Brothers have nearly doubled because of the road detours.

To stay up to date on road closures, click here for ALDOT’s website with real-time alerts.

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