Area prepares for heavy traffic
Officials are bracing for heavy traffic for the next two weeks as I-65 northbound is now closed from the Alabama 36 exit in Hartselle to Alabama 67 exit in Priceville for emergency repairs to a portion of the road that is eroding.
Alabama Department of Transportation shut down the interstate around 8 a.m. Monday and traffic is being detoured several ways.
Hartselle was officially informed about the road closure Sunday afternoon. Mayor Dwight Tankersley said the city will be monitoring the situation closely to keep traffic moving through the city.
If it’s needed, Tankersley said the police department will barricade certain intersections to prevent traffic from crossing U.S. 31 and keep traffic moving. However, he believes ALDOT is much better prepared for this interstate closure.
“There was a lot more planning this time than there was last time,” Tankersley said. “ALDOT has already given us more green time on 31. There are more detours than last time, but the majority of traffic will come down 31. So we’ll be watching the traffic closely. If it starts to back up, we might have to barricade crossing traffic at certain intersections.”
The following detours are currently in place:
• Passenger vehicles traveling northbound may exit I-65 North at Exit 325 (Thompson Road) then proceed west on Thompson Road to U.S. 31, then north to Alabama 67 then south on Alabama 67 back onto I-65 at Exit 334 (Priceville). Motorists may also exit I-65 at Exit 328 onto Alabama 36 then east to Alabama 67 then north on Alabama 67 to I-65 at Exit 334 (Priceville).
• Commercial trucks will be directed off I-65 at Exit 318 (Lacon) onto U.S. 31 north to Alabama 67 then south on Alabama 67 to I-65 at Exit 334 (Priceville).
• Oversized loads traveling northbound will be directed off I-65 at Exit 310 (Alabama 157) and should follow the approved route displayed on their printed permit.
Motorists are requested to consider using alternate routes, adjust arrival/departure times, observe work zone speed limits and other work zone signs, and use extreme caution in this area.
For detour information, motorists may tune their radios to the Highway Advisory Radio System (HARS) on 1650 AM near mile marker 312 and 1670 AM near mile markers 315 and 317.
In March 2010, the same stretch of interstate was closed due to a sinkhole opening under the two northbound lanes. The roadway was closed for eight days following the incident as temporary repairs were made.
“We heard reports that it was bumper-to-bumper all the way back to Gardendale,” Tankersley said. “The main bottleneck was right here in Hartselle. We barricaded all but three of our traffic signal intersections to try and keep traffic moving.”
Last week, ALDOT officials reported that a portion of the road was eroding just north of that same sinkhole due to recent heavy rainfall.
Bids were opened Monday to award the emergency project. Tankersley said ALDOT is giving the contractor 14 days to complete the project.
“If they don’t complete it by then, they will face a $100,000 penalty,” he added.