Alabama I-22 interchange delayed by issues

news_djournal_greenBy Joe Rutherford

Daily Journal

Completion of the largest and most expensive construction project in the I-22 corridor from Memphis to Birmingham has been delayed for a year because of design issues with bridges over I-65 in Birmingham, Alabama Department of Transportation employees confirmed this week.

The Birmingham Business Journal reported last week that the massive I-22/I-65 interchange, a contract for $168.6 million awarded in 2010 to Georgia-based contractor Archer Western, won’t be completed Oct.15, 2014, as announced. Completion has been pushed back to October 2015, if proposed design changes are approved by ALDOT.

The I-22 corridor follows approximately the route of historic U.S. Highway 78 from Birmingham to Memphis.

Alabama Department of Transportation spokesman Tony Harris said ALDOT and Archer Western, the Atlanta based contractor for the project, are in discussions about issues involving the bridges, including “working to develop a new timeline and target completion date. We will miss the Oct. 15 date this year.”

Harris said discussions with Archer Westeern started in the spring and continue. Additional details remain confidential because of the contract-related discussions.

The corridor, designated by congressional action with the strong backing of U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker R-Miss., when he was a member of the U.S. House, runs 213 miles from Memphis, through Holly Springs, New Albany and Tupelo, and will connect and terminate at I-65.

Brian Davis of ALDOT Division 3 in Birmingham said Archer Western doesn’t think the current design plan for the bridges will work; it has proposed a modification. Davis said in the business journal article it will take another month before a decision is reached on that plan.

Jamie McDonald, construction engineer in the Tupelo district offices of the Mississippi Department of Transportation, said he was not familiar with details of the I-65 situation but indicated it would not affect continuing construction on the I-22 corridor in Mississippi.

A call to Archer Western’s Atlanta regional headquarters on Wednesday was redirected to the Chicago main office of Walsh Construction, the international parent firm of Archer Western. A message asking for information and specifics was not returned by the firm’s legal department, the number provided by the Atlanta office.

I-22 terminates now in the Birmingham area at Coalburg Road. It is the connector to Daniel Payne Drive, which connects to I-65.

joe.rutherford@journalinc.com