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ALDOT says more work discussed for I-65, other projects

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 11:32 PM CDT
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SHELBY COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - If you drive I-65, you know the headache that comes with traffic congestion. We’re On Your Side reaching out to ALDOT to get updates on improvements.

“I-65 is one of our busiest roadways - especially coming through Shelby County,” said Justin O’Neal, State Trooper.

State Trooper Justin O’Neal has seen the traffic on I-65. Beach travel, back to school travel, and the gridlock caused by accidents.

An 18-wheeler crash and fuel spill early Tuesday caused standstill traffic on I-65 in Alabaster near mile marker 237. Both O’Neal and ALDOT officials agree some of the widening efforts on I-65 have helped with congestion and managing flow during accidents.

ALDOT expanded I-65 to four lanes from County Road 52 down to the Alabaster Interchange. That project wrapped in 2020.

“We know that’s not where it needs to stop. We need to get additional lanes down to Calera,” said Steve Walker, Assistant Region Engineer for Operations for East Central Region.

ALDOT officials say the state is reviewing road projects and I-65 is definitely a priority, but money may push back the project.

“It’s a budget issue. Definitely with Rebuild Alabama, more money has come in and that’s great,” said Walker. “A lot of needs and priorities are set based on what the costs are.”

ALDOT expects to roll out a quicker solution soon through its “R-TOP” - or Regional Traffic Operations Program - which includes upgrades to traffic signals to improve traffic flow on alternate routes that can be used during major accidents.

“An incident like yesterday, U.S. 31 then becomes the primary route,” said Walker. “That R-TOP program is going to help maximize that capacity that can be gained on these alternate routes.

ALDOT leaders say personnel could go into the R-TOP system to update the timing of traffic lights on an alternate route to manage the traffic of people moving away from big accidents. This would be across multiple jurisdictions. The tentative timeline for completion is this spring.

As for a widening project, there’s no timeline set on when state leaders could move forward.

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