Drivers can expect more than a year’s worth of traffic headaches as Alabama transportation officials will be shutting down a major downtown Birmingham interstate until 2020.
Starting in mid to late January of 2019, the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) will be shutting down I-59/20 in the downtown Birmingham area for an estimated 14 months.
During the interstate closure, ALDOT will be taking down and rebuilding the bridges that carry I-59/20.
ALDOT says that if everything goes as planned, I-59/20 would reopen in March 2020. In order to make sure that this reopening date is reached ALDOT will fine their contractors $250,000 for every day that the construction project completion is overdue. ALDOT will also reward contractors with $250,000 per day that the project is finished before the due date.
During the interstate shutdown, ALDOT is asking drivers to completely avoid downtown Birmingham if at all possible by taking I-459.
According to ALDOT, “We could not afford to wait before taking action, as portions of the roadway had literally began to fall apart.” The I-59/20 bridges were built in the 1960s with only an intended 30 year lifespan.
Starting on December 20, ALDOT will start a campaign to inform the public about the interstate shut down, according to a report from AL.com. They’ll also be reaching out to trucking operations that will be impacted by the closure.