ALDOT holds second meeting for Calera interchange improvements

By MOLLIE BROWN/For the Reporter

CALERA – Approximately 100 residents attended the Alabama Department of Transportation public involvement meeting June 6 at Calera First United Methodist Church.

The meeting was held to present information and solicit comments concerning bridge improvements to I-65 exit 231. This was the second meeting to discuss the proposed replacement overpass bridge that will widen the existing two-lane bridge.

ALDOT staff members and design consultants were on hand with maps of the project design for the public’s review. Location Engineer Brian Ingram prepared the preliminary design to get the project through the environmental process.

“There will be another design hearing at some point, right about the time we complete the environmental document. We’re at the final part of getting this, Ingram said. “If the city is approved for ATRIP funding, this covers the environmental document for that as well.”

The City of Calera applied for a $10 million grant from the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program to accelerate the project. The funding requires an 80-20 split. The city increased its sales tax to one percent on June 1 in order to provide the $2 million match.

Mayor Jon Graham said the 231 bridge overpass is the city’s number one clogged artery.

“This is the most pressing issue for our city. The bridge improvement is crucial to the growth of our community,” He said. “It affects economic growth, police and fire services and convenience for our citizens. We’ve been told we’ll know about the ATRIP funding by mid-July. We anticipate approval.”

Roadway Design Manager Stan Biddick said the proposed bridge will have six lanes.

“The project we’re here for tonight is larger than the project with ATRIP funding. It’s six lanes with eight-foot shoulders across the bridge,” he said. “There are two through lanes in each direction and two reversible turn lanes that access the onramps. It includes widening Highway 31 from the railroad bridge by Marvins north to State 70. With ATRIP funding, 31 will be widened from Alabama Furniture to Walmart.”

Pre-construction Engineer Lance Taylor said the city is currently working on a design in anticipation of ATRIP funding. It could take up to a year to complete the design and acquire right-of-ways for drainage.