Article by: Jon Anderson
Construction of the new Exit 9 on Interstate 459 in Hoover is scheduled to begin in 2025 and be completed in 2027, Hoover’s Assistant City Engineer Blake Miller told the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce Thursday.
“It’s an aggressive time schedule, but that’s our hope,” Miller told a luncheon crowd at the Hoover Country Club.
The Alabama Department of Transportation expects to open construction bids for the project in early 2025, and construction is expected to take 18 to 24 months, Miller said.
The new Exit 9 will be located around mile marker 9 on Interstate 459 between the Morgan Road exit and John Hawkins Parkway exit, just a little south of the South Shades Crest Road overpass.
In addition to entrance and exit ramps, the project will include an extension of Ross Bridge Parkway from Alabama 150, across the interstate and connecting with the intersection of Brock’s Gap Parkway and South Shades Crest Road.
The project also is slated to include auxiliary lanes on both sides of I-459 between Exit 9 and Exit 10 at John Hawkins Parkway, as well as ramp bridges over the CSX railroad tracks on the southwest side of the interchange and a 6-foot-wide sidewalk along one side of the new road between Alabama 150 and South Shades Crest Road.
A map shows the planned Interstate 459 Exit 9 in Hoover, Alabama, which will be between Exit 6 at Morgan Road and Exit 10 at John Hawkins Parkway. The new roads planned are shown in light blue, including an extension of Ross Bridge Parkway from Alabama 150, at right, to South Shades Crest Road, at left. Bridges are shown in yellow.
The project is still in the early design phase, and there still could be some changes to plans, Miller said.
The new interchange is needed to help remedy traffic congestion and delays, Miller said.
“Exit 10 is congested, to say it mildly,” he said. “It backs up easily a mile most days onto the interstate. That’s not a safe condition. It’s completely overloaded.”
The population of Hoover has grown 47% over the past 20 years in that area and likely will not stop growing, Miller said. The population in that area is expected to continue growing by 3.6% annually, he said.
Exit 10 is used by people from multiple communities, including Hoover, Bessemer, Helena, Alabaster and unincorporated Jefferson and Shelby counties, Miller said. “It’s not adequate for current or for future needs,” he said.
Hoover had a new interchange justification study done originally in 2010 during Mayor Tony Petelos’ term, and the Federal Highway Administration confirmed a new exit was justified. However, the new exit was not a priority for the next mayor, Gary Ivey, and the project fell to the wayside.
Current Mayor Frank Brocato revived the effort when he was first elected in 2016, and a new interchange justification study was completed and approved by the Federal Highway Administration in November 2022.
The project is expected to cost $120 million, with the city of Hoover picking up $61 million of the cost, and ALDOT using $59 million in federal funds, Miller said.
The city of Hoover already has spent $5.27 million to buy 22 acres on the northwest side of I-459 and 31.3 acres on the southeast side, but additional right of way will be needed, Miller said.
Hoover Assistant City Engineer Blake Miller shares about the planned new Exit 9 on Interstate 459 at the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Hoover Country Club on Thursday, June 15, 2023.
More recent engineering indicates that four homes will need to be purchased and the occupants relocated to make way for this project, Miller said after his presentation to the chamber.
Josh Gough, one of numerous residents in an older community along Old Section Road off Alabama 150 who have objected to the location or design that engineers have chosen, spoke up at Thursday’s chamber meeting, saying the project will negatively impact their community.
Many of his neighbors believe it would be better to use South Shades Crest Road as the new exit point, he said.
Miller said South Shades Crest Road was considered but viewed as not the best option due to the amount of traffic already on that road and the height of the South Shades Crest Road overpass.
Gough and other residents off Old Section Road said the connector road would destroy the privacy they have in an area that is one of only a couple of places in Hoover where people can have horses, as he and his wife do.
“Traffic alleviation does not justify the destruction this project will create for our neighborhood, nor does it in anyway justify the taking of our neighbors’ homes,” Gough wrote in a June 9 letter to city officials. “We have concern of diminished property value due to the interchange being routed through the top portion of our field (1026 Old Section Road). This will create a huge eyesore for our property and potential buyers.”
Gough said he’s concerned about the impact that noise, lighting and pollution from vehicles will have on his family and their horses.
“There must be a barrier to keep people from trying to feed our livestock or stop to interfere with them in our field,” he wrote.
He’s also upset at the disregard officials with the city of Hoover have shown people who live there, he said. One of the people slated to lose their homes, James Robinson, has lived there 54 years and worked all his life to be able to afford his land and home, and now he’s going to lose his home due to a detention pond that engineers say is needed, Gough said.
“He will not be able to purchase what he has in our neighborhood in another part of Hoover,” Gough wrote in a June 14 letter to city officials. “That is simply wrong.”
To top it off, Robinson didn’t find out he would be losing his home until he went to the May 25 public involvement meeting put on by ALDOT, Gough said. Someone with the city should have contacted Robinson to share that beforehand, Gough said. “It was tactless.”
Instead of working with affected residents, city officials have been slow to share information, Gough said. He also said Council President John Lyda refused to meet with people in that community outside of City Council meetings when residents each have just three minutes to speak. Lyda said in March he didn’t want to put himself into a mob-like situation.
At today’s chamber luncheon, April DeLuca, the chairwoman of the chamber’s board of directors, said she lives in the western part of Hoover and is extremely excited about a potential easier way to get to the interstate.
Blake also shared with the chamber crowd that Exit 9 will be a “diverging diamond interchange” in which traffic on the connector road crosses at traffic lights on either side of the bridge to prevent vehicles from having to cross opposing traffic as it turns left to get onto the interstate.
There is only one other interchange in Alabama like that right now, but others are planned, Miller said. “It has worked very well in other states around the U.S.,” he said.
Greg Knighton, the city’s economic development manager, said construction of this interchange would have a $238 million economic impact on the metro area. Once it is built, it also will help move a lot of heavy truck traffic off Alabama 150, with a more direct route to I-459 for trucks coming from big facilities along Lakeshore Parkway, like the Dollar General and Carvana facilities, Knighton said.
To see a video presentation about the new interchange similar to Miller’s presentation, go to ALDOT’s website here.
To visit the full article, visit HooverSun.com.