TRAFFIC ALERT: O’Neal Bridge to close for several hours Wednesday night

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FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) - It appears construction cones and barricades on one of the busiest bridges in northwest Alabama will be up for several more months.

It’s considered to be one of the most nerve-racking stretches of road in the Shoals. Many avoid O’Neal Bridge at all costs. For more than a year, drivers have been ushered into a narrow pass while a multi-million dollar rehabilitation project continues.

It allows construction crews a bit of safety as they work to paint the bridge and perform other upgrades.

“Just bear with us while we’re doing this,” stated Seth Burkett, a spokesman for ALDOT. “It’s definitely going to pay off in the long run.”

With the majority of sandblasting and painting behind them, crews are now shifting to more tedious work.

According to Burkett, crews are now working on drainage improvements, steel repairs and electrical enhancements.

Work that must be completed on a bridge this old, in order for people to be able to continue using it.

“The bridge first opened to the public in 1939,” Burkett explained. “So, it’s been around for a while and this rehabilitation project will extend its life so that it can keep serving the public.”

Burkett said construction crews are on schedule, and expected to be done with O’Neal Bridge in early 2017.

Until then, ALDOT officials ask drivers to continue to be patient.

The Alabama Department of Transportation will be shutting down O’Neal Bridge late Wednesday night for around four hours so crews can shift the traffic lanes. Drivers are urged to use Singing River Bridge after 11 p.m.