BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The bridge replacement project on I-59/20 took approximately one year and $750 million to complete.
However, there is still much work to be done before the area transforms into the true vision of state and local leaders.
“We’re going to do some-resurfacing in the interchange on [I-65] and [I-459] to make it better,” said DeJarvis Leonard with the Alabama Department of Transportation. “So you’ll see that project kicking off also.”
The good news: According to ALDOT, the re-surfacing work will mainly be done at night.
“You’ll see them starting at night working on 65 and 59 west of this – of the 59/20 central business district,” Leonard said. “But it’s not over. We just ask that you continue to be patient with us.”
Birmingham City Councilman Darrell O’Quinn is also the chairman of the city’s transportation committee. Under the bridge, the city of Birmingham has partnered with ALDOT for another project.
“Particularly the surface streets and sidewalks and things,” O’Quinn said.
He estimates that by summer, work could begin on the landscaping and hardscaping for the CityWalk BHAM project which would bring open air recreational areas to the area under the bridge. According to the project’s Facebook page, the area could eventually have special features including walking trails, a wine and beer garden and skate park among many other attractions.
O’Quinn told CBS 42 he hopes the opening of the bridge will alleviate traffic congestion in the city center and lead to less damage on Birmingham roads from the large construction vehicles.
Lashunda Scales, president pro tem of the Jefferson County Commission, said many of her constituents have expressed concern about the safety of the bridge since it was completed sooner than expected with an approximate $15 million incentive for the construction company. She said some plan to wait a couple of months before driving it to make sure it is safe.
“I think while people may be excited, they’re cautiously optimistic,” Scales said.
According to ALDOT, the bridge was inspected prior to opening and will be inspected every two years as part of a federal requirement.