BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — If you feel like Birmingham interstates have been under construction for years, that’s because they have.
Now, five years after work on the larger project began, the I-59/20 bridge opening is welcome news for drivers and state transportation officials alike.
The cutting of one ribbon makes it look easy to open a new interstate section, but it’s with over $700 million dollars, hundreds of workers and nearly a year of labor that the bridge is open to traffic again.
“And to the ladies and gentlemen of Birmingham, I just want to thank you all for your patience and your help on this as we have been working hard to get this project finished,” Gov. Kay Ivey said during the opening ceremony of the bridge Friday.
The bridge’s thousands of segments see the travels of over 100,000 drivers a day. The new portion has new safety features, shoulders for emergencies but above all: the ability to withstand that much traffic, day after day.
“Take your time,” ALDOT’s DeJarvis Leonard said. “Learn the movements and make sure you’re not distracted or impaired while you’re driving.”
Last February, demolition began on the bridge and road closures were in full effect. By the summer, some interchange bridges and the bridge’s columns were installed, and sections of the bridge were beginning to take shape. Then, by October, a celebration as the final segment was installed on the bridge.
Last Friday night, the I-59 southbound and I-20 westbound lanes opened while traffic in the opposite direction opened Sunday night.
Now, Birmingham’s newest addition gets ready to prove the notion: build it, and they will come.
The designs for City Walk Birmingham are still in their final stages, before that project will be completed to add a gathering space for pedestrians underneath the bridges.
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