Move on Calera widening soon

From Staff Reports

If you’ve ever driven near the U.S. 31 bridge over Interstate 65 in Calera during a rush hour – or any time of the day, really – you need no reminder the two-lane overpass is in desperate need of widening.
Whether you’re driving north or south on U.S. 31, chances are you’ve had to deal with this traffic bottleneck at some point in your travels.
Local drivers – and the city of Calera in general – got some fantastic news in July 2013 when Gov. Robert Bentley announced he was diverting $8 million in Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement funds to the Calera bridge-widening project, leaving the city of Calera to provide $2 million in matching funds.
Calera Mayor Jon Graham has been working to push the project to the forefront of the state’s transportation agenda for years, and we share his passion for moving the widening forward as quickly as possible.
In an interview with Shelby County Reporter staff writer Jon Harrison last week, Graham said planning for the project was “about 90 percent” complete, and said construction crews are eyeing a fall 2015 groundbreaking on the project to allow time for right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation.
A look at Calera’s 2010 census numbers show how much the city has grown since the overpass was constructed. The city listed a little more than 3,100 residents in 2000, but its population has since exploded to more than 12,000 residents.
A higher population has brought plenty of economic development to the city – particularly off Interstate 65 exit 231 – but the two-lane bridge likely has caused some businesses to shy away from the area.
While it’s important for the project to be done right, we encourage all involved to work as diligently as possible to correct what has been one of the biggest traffic issues in Shelby County for years.