ALDOT plans expansion at I-65 Calera exit - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

ALDOT plans expansion at I-65 Calera exit

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CALERA - AL -

Traveling through one of the Southeast's fastest growing cities is slow-moving.  Parts of Calera are constantly packed with cars and clogged with big backups - it's catching the eye of the state transportation department.

Exit 231 off I-65 is what city leaders call "constant rush hour." They say, since the Walmart shopping center and new restaurants began coming in ten years ago, they've had more traffic, than roads to handle it all. Calera's Mayor tells us, in 5 years, the traffic there has doubled.

"There is always traffic and you are always stuck in it," Calera Police Chief Sean Lemley said. "You're never going to get anywhere in a hurry when you are trying to get over the overpass."

"There have been a lot of accidents," Carolyn Shields, a Calera resident said.

"When someone is in front of you have to slam on the brakes," her daughter, Katelyn Shields said.

"To see how it has grown to this congestion is just unbelievable," Byron De'Vinner, a Calera native said.

Byron De'Vinner now lives out of state, but says each time he comes home to Calera for a visit, traffic gets worse.

"You can't even turn to go left to your family's house because of the congestions, cars are backed up bumper to bumper and it's frustrating," De'Vinner said. "It makes you not want to come home."

Calera police say they deal with this all day, every day and a constant stream of fender benders.

"We have a lot of violations of the law going on there," Chief Lemley said. "People don't want to sit and wait through another cycle so more people are out to try to run the red light."

Calera Mayor Jon Graham even got a call from someone who stopped at this exit on their drive to Florida...

 "It took us 30 minutes to get back on the interstate because of your traffic signals," the caller said. "I think you guys need to address that. I'm trying to be nice in this phone call conversation."

But here's the good news: ALDOT is making preparations to widen this bridge, from two lanes to four. 

"We need to be able to get the people off the interstate and get them here to fill up their gas tank and get them a bite to eat - this helps our local economy," Mayor Graham said.

Mayor Graham says all these people are a visual representation of the growth Calera is seeing. New neighborhoods are popping up on every street. This growth in part is due to Jefferson County financial problems.

'The problems with their sewer rates and the cost of Jefferson County looks like it's on the rise. 6 we're more economical to live in Calera," Mayor Graham said.

"I hope we can get something done in the near future and this is not a project that goes on and on for some time," Chief Lemley said. 

As you can imagine, city leaders say they are excited about this project. ALDOT held a public meeting in Calera last week to listen to neighbor's concerns and talk about the expansion. As of right now, there is no word on when that project will begin.