I-20/59 Bridge Replacement Project

Producer: Kirkpatrick Location: Birmingham, AL

I-20/59 Bridge Replacement Project

The Alabama Department of Transportation’s decision to replace aging Interstate 20/59 bridges traversing downtown Birmingham is a welcome update for travelers and massive undertaking for construction crews.

With roughly 160,000 vehicles traveling across the series of elevated bridges every day, to say the project is a high-traffic location is an understatement. The three-phase project initially began in 2012, when ALDOT began researching ways to replace the spans that have been in place for more than 30 years.

Kirkpatrick Concrete, one of the member companies of ConcreteSouth, is currently supplying ready mix concrete for Phase 3 of the project, which is well underway. This part of the job deals with for new bridges and exit lanes.

“We’re working with Johnson Brothers, the primary contractor for this phase,  says Rick Passey, central division sales manager for Kirkpatrick Concrete. "We're also working with Opelika's Scott Bridge Company and several other subcontractors on this foundation and substructure work,” he says. Southland Holdings is the parent company for Texas-based Johnson Brother, the company awarded the contract to build the bridge replacements.

This phase of the project is expected to take one year to complete, with the demolition of the bridges slated to begin in August 2018. “They are actually going to drop the bridges in the demolition phase and from that date, they have one year to re-install all of the bridges that go basically from I-65’s Malfunction Junction all the way down to 31st Street, just east of Birmingham,” Passey says, referring to the nickname of the tricky intersection that has long been a source of concern among motorists.

Kirkpatrick’s downtown Birmingham plant has close proximity to the current job site which Passey describes as a “huge advantage” for contractors placing the material. The facility also features a rare central mixer which ensures the material conforms to the mix design before its even loaded onto the truck. In addition, dispatch personnel are ACI and ALDOT certified to further enhance their ability to service the project.

Passey says there are several active locations where drivers are delivering material almost every day. “Our guys have gotten to know the site almost as well as the contractor,” says Passey. “They know the bridge numbers; they know the people; they know what to do and where to go. Due to the high-traffic area Passey notes safety, as always, is paramount. “We are so close to traffic, we are so close to active roadways,” Passey said. “The contractors do their best to put us behind barricades, but to our guys, safety is very important."

As each batch arrives on site it is tested for quality prior to being placed. Kirkpatrick Quality Control also spot checks the concrete before delivery “to cut off any problems that might occur at the job site,” says Passey. “Every truck is tested in some form or fashion for slump. Then, they regularly test other facets such as air content at one primary testing facility where all of the concrete goes--it is a central testing station--and from there our guys are directed to a certain bridge number, a certain caisson number, whatever the contractor is working on at the time,” he says.

According to information provided by ALDOT, when the I-59/20 bridges are finally demolished roadways that follow the construction route will be closed, forcing motorists to seek alternative routes through downtown Birmingham.

The replacement bridges will not be cast-in-place at the job-site; instead, an off-site casting facility will be used. Passey says once the new segmental bridges are cast, they will be then transported to their permanent locations, where they will be placed with cranes and additional equipment. “This is the first big segmental project that the ALDOT has been involved with since I've been around,” says Passey.

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