Photo by Jeff Thompson.
New lanes, lines and pavement
The Alabama Department of Transportation’s resurfacing project on U.S. 31 will run from Columbiana Road down to the Shelby County line.
What began in 2012 as a resurfacing project on U.S. 31 in Hoover is now moving forward, albeit with a much larger scope.
Brian Davis, Division 3 engineer with the Alabama Department of Transportation, said last month that construction on the widening and resurfacing of U.S. Highway 31 could begin as early as May 1. The project includes repaving the highway from Vestavia Hills city limits at Columbiana Road down to the Shelby County line at the Cahaba River.
It will also, most exciting for holiday shoppers, add lanes around the Riverchase Galleria.
Davis said the project’s initial scope was expanded in 2013 to include a full turn lane at the I-459 interchange for drivers intending to go west on the interstate toward Tuscaloosa.
“Hoover came in and said it would like to make some improvements in front of the Galleria,” Davis said. “There are a lot of short, right-turn lanes through that area, and they suggested we can hook them all together and create an auxiliary lane.”
Mayor Gary Ivey said the new lane would reduce the bottleneck that sometimes spills onto the highway and impedes traffic flow.
Davis said the City dove into developing the project, which it hoped would alleviate congestion where it is the worst. Hoover agreed to increase its funding, and ALDOT chose to combine the projects and complete them simultaneously.
“It made sense for us to do it together,” Davis said. “Rather than have us out there disrupting traffic twice, why not do it all at once? So, we delayed our resurfacing about a year and let the plans get done to connect those turn lanes.”
Hoover’s portion of the bill for the widening project will be capped at $500,000, Ivey said — reflecting a 50 percent match with the state of Alabama up to $1 million. Any excess will be covered by the state.
The resurfacing will connect to another ALDOT resurfacing project on U.S. 31 through Vestavia Hills. Davis said the project extends down U.S. 31 from the intersection of Columbiana Road to the Homewood city limits near the intersection of Shades Crest Road, near the Sybil Temple on top of the hill.
Davis said the projected timeline is to open bids for the Vestavia Hills portion in June and begin construction in late summer or early fall. He said ALDOT intends to complete both projects before Thanksgiving.