Calera moves closer to expanding U.S. 31

Work on expanding the U.S. 31 bridge over Interstate 65 in Calera could begin as early as 2012, City Engineer Chris Pappas said during a June 21 Calera City Council meeting.

Expanding the current two-lane bridge over Interstate 65 at exit 231 is a major part of the city’s plan to expand U.S. 31 in the city, and must be approved by the Alabama Department of Transportation.

During a June 14 meeting with Calera officials, ALDOT representatives said they planned to begin designing the new bridge immediately.

Because ALDOT engineers must rework the interstate exit, conduct environmental studies and complete several other preliminary projects before they begin work on the bridge, the design phase could last more than two years, Pappas said.

“Keep in mind this is a lengthy project, but (ALDOT) has authorized its division engineer to begin designing the bridge,” Papps said.

When completed, the new bridge will be able to accommodate seven lanes of traffic, and will fit into Calera’s future plan to add additional lanes on U.S. 31 in the city.

“What we have heard on this matter is real positive,” Calera Mayor Jon Graham said.

In other business, the council approved a rezoning request from municipal reserve to a business zone to accommodate GIS Construction at 10154 U.S. 31.

The company is relocating to Calera from Midland, Texas, and will frequently do business with several chemical lime plants in and around Calera, said Diane Knight, the real estate agent for the property.

“They do a lot of work for the lime companies around here, so that’s why they wanted a more convenient location here in Calera,” Knight said.

When the company begins constructing its Calera location, it must construct a more than 6-foot wooden privacy fence around its building, and will move the property’s main entrance from U.S. 31 to Shelby County 4.