Another hole opens on I-20/59 in downtown Birmingham - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Another hole opens on I-20/59 in downtown Birmingham

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This hole opened up Monday on I-20/59 South in downtown Birmingham near the 16th Street North exit. Source: Alan Collins/WBRC This hole opened up Monday on I-20/59 South in downtown Birmingham near the 16th Street North exit. Source: Alan Collins/WBRC
Debris from the hole that fell beneath the interstate. Source: Alan Collins/WBRC Debris from the hole that fell beneath the interstate. Source: Alan Collins/WBRC
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

Another hole in the interstate opened on I-20/59 on Monday, causing damage to at least one car.

The hole developed on the same day that Jefferson County lawmakers met with ALDOT officials to discuss road and bridges projects.

ALDOT Director John Cooper said the newest hole in the interstate is another example of what needs to be done to replace bridges in downtown Birmingham. The hole is on I-20/59 South near the 16th Street North exit and the Sunbeam Bread company, west of the BJCC.

"I think we need to replace the bridge. This has been apparent to engineers for several years now. Yes this is an indication we will have pop outs. We continue to have places where the concrete crumbles," Cooper said.

A metal plate is being put over the hole as a temporary solution. During the next two weeks, crews will cut out the hole and pour concrete over the area.

Cooper said they've also discovered another area near the first hole that could develop into another hole. Workers will repair both sites at the same time.

On July 4, a hole that opened on I-20/59 caused damage to more than a dozen cars. At least 16 insurance claims have been filed in connection to the July 4 hole.

Cooper says the state doesn't have any choice but to rebuild the aging interstate. He says their job now is to find the way that has the least impact on the city of Birmingham.

Birmingham city leaders have expressed concerns over ALDOT's plan to repair the interstate since some of the original planned called for permanently closing several exits and limiting access to areas including Norwood and the BJCC entertainment district.

The latest compromised plan allows access from I-20/59 to 17th Street, 18th Street and 31st Street. The 22nd Street exit would remain closed.

Cooper says they play to keep the 17th Street exit open to prevent an excess of traffic at the civic center and to keep it from spilling into the Norwood neighborhood.

The bridge replacement for 20/59 in downtown Birmingham would cost around $345 million. ALDOT would have to close the bridges for 18 months spanning 2014 and 2015 to complete the repairs, Cooper said.

When the I-20/59 bridge first opened in 1971, it was meant to last 30 years and support 80,000 cars a day. Forty-two years later, the bridge is holding almost twice as much traffic as it was originally built for.

ALDOT officials are planning to repair 6,600 feet of roadway and bridges that start at the 31st Street interchange, run in front of the BJCC and end at "Malfunction Junction" on I-20/59.

ALDOT and city leaders also discussed the northern beltline. This Friday, after 30 years of study, ALDOT will open bids for the first phase of construction work on the northern beltline.

Construction will start in February in the Palmerdale area. Cooper said in the future alternative routes will be needed to relieve traffic congestion in downtown Birmingham.

"Certainly the Birmingham northern beltline is one of their needs. Both for traffic to be cleared around the metropolitan area and to provide a second pathway as when we are repair bridges," Cooper said.

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