Construction of Calera bypass scheduled for late 2014

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

CALERA – Construction of a bypass that would relieve traffic congestion in downtown Calera is scheduled to begin in 2014, an engineer said Tuesday night during a public involvement meeting for the project.

Speaking to more than 50 people at the Calera Community Center, Blair Perry of the engineering firm Gresham Smith gave an overview and tentative timeline for the Calera Northern Bypass.

The bypass would extend about 4.25 miles from Alabama 25 on the west side of Calera and continue north and east, crossing Shelby County 16 and intersecting with U.S. 31 about a half-mile south from the Interstate 65/U.S. 31 interchange.

The bypass would be a four-lane divided roadway with a depressed 40-foot median. Highways 25 and 31 would be widened to install right and left turn lanes to access the bypass.

“To promote safety on this roadway, the city proposed to control the access on and off of the bypass,” Perry said. “They’re not going to allow driveways every so often. The access will be controlled and managed.”

Environmental studies are currently being performed, Perry said. The final design is scheduled for completion by the spring of 2012. Right of way acquisition should be done by the spring of 2013 and utility relocations are scheduled for the spring of 2014.

“The current target date for beginning construction is the winter of 2014,” Perry said.

In the early planning stages, engineers considered other alternatives to relieve downtown traffic congestion, Perry said. Alternatives considered included improving intersections and widening existing roads, he said.

Those options, he said, would have been difficult because of the tight right of ways downtown and the railroad crossing in the middle of it all.

“That’s how we got to the bypass,” Perry said.

Calera Mayor Jon Graham said discussions about the bypass date back at least seven years.

“This seems like a wise investment for the state,” Graham said. “We need this.”

Calera City Councilman David Bradshaw said the bypass “has been a long time coming.”

“I’m glad to see it moving forward,” Bradshaw added.