BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -We’re just days away from a major piece of this area’s biggest road projects in recent years. ALDOT is expected to start closing the I-20/59 span over downtown Birmingham on Friday.
This presents challenges for drivers, but also first responders where every second counts.
Birmingham Fire and Rescue crews have been taking alternative routes practicing which route is the most efficient ahead of Monday’s closure.
"It is important for people to know the fire department is prepared, “ said Batt. Chief Sebastian Carrillo. “We have drove alternate routes to and from the hospital, and while we may see a challenge as it relates to traffic you should see no drop off in the amount of service that we provide,” he continued.
Carrillo said this closure would impact more than Station 1 that sits in Downtown Birmingham.
“It will be a lot more than Station 1 that will be impacted because we transport people from all across the city to the University Hospital and other hospitals Downtown. So , people coming in from the north , east, west and the south will be impacted,” explained Carrillo.
To make sure they can meet the demand, the department is adjusting work schedules and adding extra units during peak traffic times. “We are expecting that the first couple of days and couple of weeks will be hard on us, but as people get used to their alternate route, hopefully we will be able to manage better,” he continued.
The fire department experienced a similar situation several years ago when there was a bridge that collapsed suddenly. He said this one was planned and gave them time to adjust.
“We’ve had a lot more time to plan for the detours. Initially when the bridge came down it was a nightmare, however when people got used to those secondary routes we were able to manage through that process," said Carrillo.
Carrillo said one way to make this process smoother is with the help of drivers.
"Our biggest asset is going to be the drivers themselves by them obeying the traffic laws. Pulling to the right if an emergency vehicle is approaching, instead of stopping in front of the emergency vehicle or pulling to the left, “ he explained.
“It is very important that we get the message out that we need people to pull to the right and allow our emergency vehicles to pass,” Carrillo continued.