Alabama Department of Transportation is encouraging drivers to plan alternate routes as it prepares to demolish the elevated 59/20 bridge structure through downtown Birmingham.
AL-DOT is sticking to its timeline of mid to late January to begin the demolition. It is expected to take about one month to demolish the elevated section of 59/20 through downtown, from 15th Street to 27th Street.
By now, many drivers know the 59/20 bridge is coming down.
“I see the challenges ahead,” Mike Plaia told us.
Plaia explained he goes to work early to avoid traffic.
He knows Birmingham traffic patterns will change while malfunction junction is closed.
“One great thing about Birmingham is the simplicity that we have,” he said. “You can get to children’s events real quick. You can get to functions you want to get to really quick... So, if that traffic intensifies, then it causes challenges for families and others to get to those events they participate in.”
AL-DOT Region Engineer DeJarvis Leonard emphasizes the need for drivers to plan alternative routes now.
He explained how the demolition will happen.
“If they remove the columns underneath one site of each span, that allows that span to kind of tip over and fall to the ground,” Leonard said. “So, when it falls, then they can finish the demolition of the main span of the portion of the drive wall, and remove it and haul it out.”
“Hopefully they do it effectively where there’s not a lot of disaster to clean up,” said Plaia.
While most of the demolition will be mechanical, explosions have not been ruled out.
But before all of this can begin, AL-DOT is waiting for the 31st Street ramps to open.
“That’s going to 59 toward the airport,” said Leonard. “It’s currently closed. They’re working on that ramp.”
Leonard says the new bridge construction will be able to happen while the old bridges are being torn down.
The contractor must build the new bridges within 14 months to avoid expensive fines.