What do Birmingham’s 59/20 bridge project and LEGOs have in common? Find out here.

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The 59/20 bridge project is kind of like surgery.
I-59/20 Construction. Photo by Jon Eastwood for Bham Now

Think of the 59/20 bridge project as like surgery.

It’s like one of those really long surgeries . . . you hang out for hours while the surgeon periodically comes out with updates and assures you your loved one is still breathing.

The 59/20 bridge project is kind of like a long surgery. The people working on it think it will be done on schedule by March 2020.
Remember this game? Photo from Facebook

Then when all is said and done, they have a whole new [fill in the blank]. For Birmingham, it’s a whole new main artery running through the city.

Painful in the short term. Way better in the long term.

What’s already done on the 59/20 bridge project?

The interchanges where the highway meets other highways are either done or almost done.
The junction formerly known as Malfunction Junction. Graphic from ALDOT

A lot! Remember Malfunction Junction?

Thankfully, that once-awful interchange at the intersection of 59/20 and 65 is now like a bad dream. In its place is a nice and smooth interchange that functions as an interchange should.

Some areas are now wider now, too, to allow for all the traffic flowing through the Magic City now, as opposed to 60 years ago when the old bridges were built.

Click here for some really cool before and after shots.

What are they working on now?

The construction that's happening now is mostly in segments, up to 400 a month.
Do you think the engineers are Auburn fans, or are the colors just coincidence? Photo from ALDOT

There’s a similar reconstruction that’s in progress over on the other side, where 59/20 and 280 meet. The parts that are working now are working so much better.

Bonus close-up views of colorful construction with long stretches that are great for crane-spotting.

You can get great views of cranes from the highway near the construction sites.
Crane-spotting, anyone? Photo from ALDOT

Now that we have lots of shiny new bridges, they’re working to make sure they connect on the familiar route that runs straight through Birmingham.

They’re doing this through some pretty cool segmental construction that looks a lot like LEGOs or K’Nex to me. It takes about a month to install 400 or so segments.

You know when they were kids, the people working on this project built things like this, right?

Many a civil engineer got their start with LEGO. Or so we imagine when thinking about the 59/20 bridge project.
Bridge construction at BrickFair LEGO Fan Expo at the BJCC. Photo from Facebook

What happens next on the bridge project?

The 59/20 bridge project really is an amazing construction project. If you don't think so, ask a little kid.
If you’re not yet appreciating the awesomeness of the construction project, find a little kid to ride with you. Tell them you heard there’s a 60-foot bridge, and I promise they’ll ask if every bridge is the 60-foot bridge. Photo from ALDOT

The people behind the 59/20 bridge project are confident at this point that they’ll have traffic back on the bridges by March 2020.

Want all the latest info on the 59/20 bridge project?

You can get all the juicy updates in the following places:


Whether or not you’re a fan of the game Operation, and whether or not crane-spotting’s your thing, soon it will all be a memory. In about eight months’ time, we should all be enjoying the fruits of all of this labor. In the end, our travels will no doubt be smoother and less stressful.

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Author: Sharron Mendel Swain

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