Get a sneak peek at renderings for under the 59/20 bridges. 6 things you need to know.

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One idea of what it could look like under the 59/20 bridge when all is said and done.
One idea of what it could look like under the bridge when all is said and done. Rending from 59/20 Bridge Facebook page

Right now, while the highways are undergoing a complete renovation, it’s hard to imagine what will go in under the 59/20 bridges. But even as motorists and pedestrians marvel at the ever-changing cityscape, the people behind the scenes are busy planning some pretty cool features. If you thought we were just getting new bridges out of the deal, you’re mistaken.

1. Look for cool lighting under the 59/20 bridges

LED lights mounted under the 59/20 bridge.
An example of some of the lights mounted to the underside of the bridge. Photo supplied

The bridge designers weren’t just thinking in terms of functionality—getting us all from point a to point b. They also were thinking in terms of aesthetics, so they came up with some pretty cool lighting plans.

  • There will be cross-street lighting at every block from 15th to 23rd streets.
  • These will be LED lights mounted to the underside of the bridge, shining down on the area below the bridge
  • There will also be LED stick light poles and some teardrop light poles at the cross streets, making the area pretty and inviting

2. Like Vulcan, the 59/20 bridges will be able to light up

Like Vulcan, the 59/20 bridges will light up the night sky.
Like Vulcan, the bridges will light up the night sky. Photo from Vulcan Park and Museum

Who needs glow sticks when you can find colorful lights at Vulcan, in Birmingham’s tunnels and soon on the 59/20 bridges? Yep, once they’re done, these bridges will have ribbon lighting on both sides. Just imagine:

  • Red, white and blue for July 4
  • Green for UAB games or St. Patrick’s Day
  • Red for Valentine’s Day

These are just a few of the possibilities ALDOT’s dreaming of. Just to show it’s not all pie-in-the-sky, they’re installing wiring as they build the bridges. It won’t be long before we’re enjoying these new lights in the Magic City.

3. ALDOT and CityWalk are also thinking about what’s going under those bridges

A rendering of what the underside of the new bridges may look like.
Rendering of what the underside of the new bridges may look like. From Facebook

There will be a lot of space underneath the new bridges, and some good people have been putting their minds together to determine how to create something wonderful for the city—ideally in time for the 2020 World Games.

4. CityWalk BHM’s been consulting with lots of people to get ideas for the space under the 59/20 bridges

CityWalk BHM has been consulting with lots of people to get ideas for what the parks could look like under the 59/20 bridges.
People looking at a map of the area. Photo from Facebook

Throughout 2018, there were gatherings all over Birmingham where people gave their ideas of what may happen under the bridges. Programming ideas include the following:

  • Sports and fitness
  • Children and family
  • Live entertainment
  • Arts and culture
  • Food and beverage

I don’t know about you, but I’m guessing dogs fit under children and family? Because surely you can’t have a city park without dogs. Just sayin’.

5. Bryant Park in NYC is the model for what CityWalk could become

A photo of Bryant Park in NYC - this is part of the inspiration for what CityWalk BHM could become.
Movie nights at Bryant Park in NYC. Photo from Facebook

Park design doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and it’s good to check out what’s hot in other cities for ideas. While New York City’s new-ish Bryant Park isn’t a linear park underneath a bridge, it does do a really good job of combining all sorts of cool features (compost, anyone? community knitting, juggling or ice rink?) with fun programming to make sure there’s truly something for everyone.

6. When all is said and done, Birmingham will have cool lights and an awesome park under the 59/20 bridges

A rendering of what it may look like under the 59/20 bridges when they're done.
Rendering of what the ribbon lighting may look like alongside the bridges. From Facebook

Note that this is just a rendering—an idea. But it does show the ribbon lighting, and give a sense of the under-bridge lighting, and what a park could look like under the bridge. Of course there’s still more planning to do, and more construction, but in the end, our bet is it will be pretty awesome.


If you want to stay up to date with all things bridge-related, check out 5920bridge.com, or follow them on Twitter or Facebook.

Stay tuned into Bham Now, friends.

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Author: Sharron Mendel Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference