I-65 projects could be finished in January

ALDOT Division Engineer Brian Davis said crews likely will have three projects along Interstate 65 in Shelby County completed shortly after the new year. (File

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Three projects spanning the length of Interstate 65 in Shelby County likely will be wrapped up by the end of January 2012, said an Alabama Department of Transportation division engineer.

Brian Davis, division engineer of ALDOT’s third division in Birmingham, said the agency currently is wrapping up work on three projects along the high-traffic interstate. Depending on the weather conditions, ALDOT could finish the projects “shortly after the first of the year,” Davis said.

The southernmost project stretches from the Chilton County line to the Colonial Promenade exit in Alabaster.

“That one is basically a paving rehabilitation, or lane repaving, project,” Davis said. “They are doing guard rail and shoulder work right now. It’s a night paving job, so if the temperatures allow, we should be done with that one around the first of the year.”

ALDOT crews also are putting the final touches on an interstate widening and repaving project stretching from Exit 242 in Pelham to the Valleydale Road exit.

“They are addressing punch list items right now,” Davis said. “Basically, those are items we noticed on our final walkthrough, like splits in the pavement or other items that need addressing before we accept the job. It’s basically a final cleanup.”

Davis said ALDOT is also working to reinstall a large electronic message board taken down when the widening project began.

Because ALDOT has not yet accepted the job from Exit 242 to Valleydale Road, the state has not yet raised the speed limit along the stretch from 55 to 70 miles per hour. ALDOT officials do not accept jobs from contractors until the job meets ALDOT’s final inspection.

“We don’t want to raise it up to 70 for a few days and then have to drop it back to 55 when we go out to address one of those punch list items,” Davis said. “It’s better for the motorists to stay used to 55 until we accept the job.”

The third ALDOT project in Shelby County involves widening the interstate from six to eight lanes from Valleydale Road to Interstate 459.

Davis said the contractor is preparing to paint permanent striping on the stretch, which cannot be installed until the new paving goes through its curing process.

The contractor is also working to grind the shoulders of the stretch, which installs rough ridges along the side of the road to alert drivers they are leaving the roadway.

“Will everything be done on Jan. 1? Probably not,” Davis said noting crews also are attempting to work around holiday traffic as much as possible. “But, weather allowing, I think everything could be completed by the end of January.”