Detour Ahead: Bridge on Dallas Ave. closes Monday

Published 7:09 pm Saturday, July 13, 2013

The bridge on Dallas Avenue will close Monday. Police and city officials are urging drivers to take caution and learn new, alternate routes around the bridge. -- Ashley Johnson

The bridge on Dallas Avenue will close Monday. Police and city officials are urging drivers to take caution and learn new, alternate routes around the bridge. — Ashley Johnson

It is unknown what sort of time delay the traffic caused by the closure of the Dallas Avenue bridge over Valley Creek will cause Monday morning. But, there is one thing that is certain, a lot of area drivers will have to learn an entirely different route to work — a route they will need to use for up to 10 months. 

The Alabama Department of Transportation has not set a definite time for the closure but said the bridge would be closed, “early Monday.”

Detour signs, in addition to ones put out by the city for new one-way streets, are already in place and — in some cases — have already caused changes in downtown traffic patterns.

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“During the bridge replacement project, the portion of State Route 22 (Dallas Avenue) adjacent to the bridge will be closed to all traffic,” a release by ALDOT said Tuesday. “Parkman Avenue (east of bridge) and Marina Drive (west of bridge) will have access to State Route 22 during the length of the project. Posted detour routes are State Route 219 and U.S. Highway 80.”

While Alabama Highway 219 and U.S. Highway 80 are options, the city has created a detour route going down Union Street towards J.L. Chestnut Boulevard, going down J.L. Chestnut Boulevard and continuing down Hooper to get to areas like Bloch Park and west Selma from downtown.

Two streets have been changed from two-way traffic to one-way streets during the bridge replacement. Union Street will direct traffic towards J.L. Chestnut Boulevard, while King Street will now bring one-way traffic in the opposite direction.

Selma Mayor George Evans said while those streets have had the one-way signs for several weeks, the one-way traffic will be officially enforced by patrol officers beginning Monday.

“Yes, we will have police down there and they will be making sure drivers are going the right way,” Evans said. “The new street (directions) have not been enforced yet, but they will be.”

ALDOT spokesperson Rebecca White said some utilities, like power lines, “have been relocated,” and the remainder are either being moved or are scheduled to be moved.

“They will not interfere with the project,” White said of the utilities.

White had said the project would cost an estimated $2 million. But, the winning low bid was from Newell & Bush of Montgomery, who turned in a bid of $2,153,245. The project is expected to continue through May 2014.

“The contract timeline takes into account weather days and other potential circumstances,” White said, but added there is no kind of incentive for early completion of the project.

The bridge was built in 1927 and ALDOT said it is part of routine bridge replacements — more than 500 — that are done all throughout the state each year.

Sgt. Roy Nix, traffic division commander for the Selma Police Department, said for drivers to be careful Monday and for those who commute through Dallas Avenue, to find a new route to work Monday.

“Just be careful go ahead and plan ahead for taking a different route to work and everything,” Nix said. “If you are on the west side, go on Highland Avenue and through the north end or go on Cahaba Road and J.L. Chestnut — but it’s going to be a work in progress really.”
Selma Chief of Police William Riley similarly said he and his department are asking drivers to be patient with the roadwork and closures, as the traffic interruptions would, “not last forever.”

“This is the result of fixing and upgrading our roadways,” Riley said of the traffic closures. “I ask everyone’s help in getting through this road closure and upgrade. We must all work together in this.”