Calera Highway Ramp Slated for Widening

One of the most dangerous highway ramps in Alabama, according to Calera officials, is the ramp that takes traffic from Alabama 25 onto Interstate 65 North.  Just this past Thursday, a fatal accident occurred at that very spot when two tractor trailer rigs and a passenger van collided killing one and injuring four others.  

What makes this ramp so dangerous is that the ramp ends suddenly at a bridge and merging traffic has the choice of either hitting the bridge or going into traffic.  Unfortunately for those people in the van, when they attempted to merge into traffic at the end of the ramp, their vehicle was hit by two trailer rigs.

Alabama Troopers identified the person killed in Thursday’s crash as passenger James Barnett, 26, of Bessemer.  Others in the van, William Garrison, 40, of Alabaster, Donald Hughes, 44, of Shelby, and April Barnett, 20, of Bessemer, were all taken to UAB Hospital.  According to UAB spokesman Kevin Storr, Barnett was in good condition, Hughes was undergoing surgery, and Garrison was listed in critical condition.

The driver of the 2005 Freightliner rig, Jerry Brunson, 52, of Byhalia, Mississippi, was taken to Shelby Baptist Medical Center, while the driver of the other tractor trailer, Dexter Johnston of Auburn, was not injured.

Calera Police Chief Sean Lemley stated that this accident is just one of many wrecks, several of which were fatal, that have happened at the same spot in his seventeen years with the police force.

The Alabama Department of Transportation plans to widen the ramp this fall as part of a $10.5 million project.  In addition to widening the bridge, a third acceleration lane will be added that will be approximately .7 miles long and will continue from the Alabama 25 onramp across the I-65 bridge.

Calera Mayor Jon Graham state that it’s a situation that “warrants immediate attention, and it’s just a shame that a life has been lost.”