New Grants Mill bridge set to open in August

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

A city of Birmingham engineer said Feb. 22 the city hopes to have a new bridge over southeastern Jefferson County’s Grants Mill Road completed in August 2011. The new bridge would replace the current condemned bridge, which has been closed since December 2009.

State Sen. Slade Blackwell, R-Birmingham, and state Rep. Greg Canfield, R-Vestavia, led a Feb. 22 town hall meeting about the bridge with citizens from both Jefferson and Shelby counties.

Andre Bittas, an engineer with the city of Birmingham, went over a timeline for the project during the meeting.

In late January, the Birmingham City Council awarded the bridge contract to Bob Smith Construction.

The plan is to have the existing bridge removed and preliminary work done by April 15, Bittas said.

The new bridge is expected to take 120-140 days, from mid-April to mid-August, to install. The road will also be widened, Bittas said.

Canfield said he, along with Blackwell, sympathize with residents disgruntled by the lengthy wait for the project’s completion.

“I know this topic is very important,” he said. “We’ve heard loud and clear how important it was, and we know how important it is because we use that bridge on a daily basis.”

Although the bridge lies in Jefferson County, thousands of Shelby County residents used the bridge to commute from Alabama 119 in North Shelby to Interstate 459 before Birmingham officials closed the 74-year-old structure.

Since the bridge was closed, motorists have been forced to drive several miles past Grants Mill Road to Ziegler Road, and then south on Rex Lake Road to get back to Grants Mill Road.