BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — During Irondale Mayor James D. Stewart, Jr.’s State of the City address Thursday, he said the city will be the first one in Jefferson County to be completely lit across its roads in 2023.
Stewart is among many city leaders who are addressing visibility across Jefferson County interstates – a problem that has plagued the roadways for years.
Turning the lights back on is something Birmingham city leaders have really taken initiative of – especially ahead of the World Games in 2022.
Transportation Committee Chair Darrell O’Quinn said a large portion was completed from the airport from downtown by the end of 2022.
“This is not the first time we fixed the lights,” O’Quinn said. “There are multiple municipalities in the Birmingham metro area who are in the exact same position as we are. it’s not a city of Birmingham unique problem.”
The problem: lack of maintenance, thieves stealing copper inside and accidents knocking them over — never getting replaced.
Stewart said getting the lights working is one of the city’s 33 goals in 2023. He said ALDOT will repair the infrastructure, get the wiring and poles in place – then Alabama Power replaces the heads on the poles – the city will then maintain it.
“We were able to get in front of the powers that be to help them to see the importance of why we need to do this in the City of Irondale,” Stewart said. “For Irondale to be one of the smaller municipalities in Jefferson County to be able to get this done and take the lead on it, it means a lot to me.”
However, the work is not done yet. Stewart said 199 light heads will be replaced – brightening up interstates and streets, making it safer to drive.
“We’re going to have to take the approach of biting off a little bit at a time and hopefully doing it in a way that minimizes the likelihood that we’re going to be doing it again in a few years,” O’Quinn said.
O’Quinn said it costs $7 million each year to light the city.
Birmingham has the largest interstate lighting system in the state according to the city’s department of transportation – so it’s going to take time and partnerships to finish up. The next target area is in the works.