Outlook on I-59/20 bridge project’s economic impact is positive, officials say

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT) — For a year now, the downtown Birmingham area, and specifically Uptown has been crowded.

Parking has been harder, there’s been more traffic, and a lot of detours, but all of that was to bring Birmingham to the next level, and the new 59/20 bridge is only the beginning.

Businesses by the 59/20 bridge construction have been waiting all year for this.

“The flow of traffic. The direction of traffic. It was so mind-boggling to everybody around here, they didn’t know which way it was going to come or go,” said Robert Trice, owner of The Pit BBQ, that sits under all the bridge construction.

The Pit BBQ has been there from beginning to end, but the closed bridge hasn’t stopped them from serving their customers. In fact, the construction made them busier with workers visiting them and new customers from the detours.

Trice said he’s ready for some normalcy.

“The people here don’t have that much time or breaks so with it adding in with workers being around here, it’s going to give the regulars time to eat with us that didn’t and why it’s been so busy,” said Trice.

It’s been keeping companies busy too.

The Birmingham Business Alliance said the bridge is set to bring more momentum and growth to Birmingham.

“It’s going to make it easier for people to get to Uptown, to the dining entertainment district there. It’s going to make it easier for citizens to get to Protective Stadium that is going to be coming up soon. The BJCC is going to make it easier for people to move from downtown Birmingham, having dinner to downtown, to walking to BJCC,” said Fred McCallum, interim-president and CEO of Birmingham Business Alliance.

McCallum said Birmingham is a transportation hub and this bridge will also make it easier to recruit more companies.

But with the countdown on for the 2021 World Games and the new Protective Stadium being built, the possibilities are endless.

“To the BJCC, Protective Stadium, and Uptown district, you’re going to see economic development follow that. World games will also add to that. We’re seeing today several hotels that are projects get going here as a result of that and we expect to see more as we go along,” said McCallum.

McCallum said what really brings momentum to the economy are the visitors who have a positive experience and come back, so they’re looking forward to showing off that Magic City charm at the 2021 world games and so are the business owners.

The Birmingham Business Alliance said the project didn’t cause as many distributions as they thought it would to downtown.

Now, they’re ready to recruit more businesses and see the momentum continue in the downtown growth.


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