Pelham Police warn of heavier back-to-school traffic

Heavy construction near the Interstate 65-Shelby County 52 intersection likely will cause major traffic gridlocks once children return to school Aug. 12, according to the Pelham Police Department.

Traffic typically worsens significantly once the fall school session begins, but police are warning this year could be much worse than it has been in the past.

“We typically see a dramatic increase in traffic when the school year begins, especially in the morning,” said Pelham Police Lt. Davy Lott. “The afternoon traffic is usually not too affected by the school traffic, since most of the kids are already home at 5 o’clock.”

Traffic in Pelham is usually heaviest between 6:30-8 a.m. when school is in session, because many parents drive their children to school before commuting to work.

Because it typically takes a few weeks after the school session begins for parents and students to become familiar with their morning routines, traffic likely will be the heaviest in late August and early September, Lott said.

“People should probably take a little extra time each morning right after school starts just until they see how much longer it is going to take them,” Lott said. “Usually, traffic will taper off again a few weeks into the school year.”

This year, police are expecting traffic delays to be longer than they have been in the past for those traveling on Shelby County 52 near I-65.

For the past few months, crews have been working to widen parts of I-65 and the Shelby County 52 bridge over the interstate, and have been forced to re-route several lanes near the bridge.

Huntley Parkway, which connects Shelby County 52 with Shelby County 11, also becomes congested each morning with commuters traveling from Alabaster to I-65, Lott said.

“Traffic on 52 will be particularly heavy once school starts back,” Lott said. “It’s already pretty bad right now, but the school traffic will just add to it.

“They are in the process of widening the interstate and the bridge right now, so hopefully this will be the last year we have to deal with it,” Lott added. “Ultimately, it will be a million times better once they complete those widening projects.”

Pelham Police will place extra emphasis on patrolling high-traffic areas once school begins, and will issue citations to those who break traffic laws, Lott said.

“We will patrol all of the areas where we have had traffic problems, just to make sure everything is going as smoothly as it can,” Lott said. “Some people do things that tend to make traffic worse, so we want to try to stay on top of that.”