I-65 fatal wreck has city leaders hoping for ramp improvement - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

I-65 fatal wreck has city leaders hoping for ramp improvement

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CALERA - AL -

A deadly accident on I-65 is giving new attention to what Calera city leaders call -- a life and death situation hundreds people drive through every day.

The Mayor says, the 228 entrance ramp is not long enough to keep cars from colliding. 
While we still don't know the cause of Thursday's wreck - it happened right in front of that ramp.  Two tractor trailers and a passenger van collided killing the person inside the van.  It's an accident, Calera city leaders say shines a light on a greater problem.

"It's one of three exits that Calera has off I 65," Calera Mayor, Jon Graham said.

City leaders say it's one of the most dangerous in the state.

"We work multiple accidents at this location, including fatalities," Calera Police Chief, Sean Lemley said.

"As we stand here, I hear trucks hitting their brake -- you can spend a few minutes here and you can tell how dangerous it is," Mayor Graham said.

They say, the problem is that the ramp going onto 65 North at 228 is shorter than most and drivers don't have enough time to merge before they meet the railing on the bridge.

"If we could get that on ramp extended to where it needs to be, then stuff like this could more than likely be avoided," Chief Lemley said.

"I don't know if the state sees the urgency I see, but I am here - I drive this road every day," Mayor Graham said.

Mayor Jon Graham says, he's been petitioning the state for years to extend the entrance ramp.

"We said either close the entrance down or fix  the entrance immediately," Graham said.

"I have been to Montgomery asking for this project, I have written letters asking for this - I think it's a life safety issue," he told us.

We also spoke with the State Department of Transportation. They told us, there is a plan in the works for improving the entrance ramp at exit 228 but Calera Police say, it can't come soon enough.

"Things like this cause, not only a hardship to the community, but to our department as well. I have a dozen police officers tied up right now dealing with all the traffic we are trying to divert through our city," Lemley said.

Right now, the state says it is are about three quarters of the way through the process of writing a plan. The next step is sending it out for bids. No word yet on when that expansion will begin.