Birmingham rejoices: I-59/20 bridges are set to open on or before January 21

The bridges under construction. Photo via Jon Eastwood for Bham Now

The time has finally arrived! After nearly a year of sitting in traffic and finding alternate routes for our commutes, we will now be able to drive on the new bridges downtown on or before January 21, 2020. It’s been a long road—but we’re glad to have our bridges back!

Before we celebrate this momentous traffic news, let’s take a trip down memory lane and see how far we’ve come.

Dark Days: ALDOT Announces Road Closure

Remember the old bridge that was taken down? Photo via ALDOT

It’s been almost a year to the day since the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) announced impending road closures, and Birmingham let out a collective sigh. Driving to or from work was far from smooth for many of us already, so this news came with a lot of apprehension. 

One of our Bham Nowers shared her thoughts on the best way to get around the traffic—did one of these work for you? Those scooters sure looked legit. 

Riding to work in style. Photo via Pixabay

Forced to Accept Reality: Detours Announced

As fun as it was to dream of buying scooters or digging a tunnel for a hyperloop to escape the madness, reality set in when detours were announced. I for one have become very familiar with Finley Boulevard. I won’t miss the extra time it took to go visit my family back in Tennessee. See ya, construction. 

A Glimmer of Hope: Construction Ahead of Schedule

Aerial photo of downtown Birmingham on March 31, 2019. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

After three months of dealing with our new traffic reality, we were given a reason to hope when ALDOT announced construction was ahead of schedule back in April. Could it be?!

One Consolation: CityWalk Bham

Birmingham residents looking at plans for CityWalk Birmingham, a linear public space that will be under the 59/20 bridges. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

To ease the pain and road rage we’ve been feeling over the road closures, ALDOT and the federal government shared plans for CityWalk Bham, a unique public space under those new bridges we’ve been so patiently waiting for. Ideas include:

  • A dog park
  • 265 parking spaces (PLEASE!)
  • Outdoor classroom
  • Skate park 

Dreams Do Come True: I-59/20 Bridges Set to Open Early

Goodbye, traffic. We won’t miss you. Photo via Jon Eastwood for Bham Now

Everyone likes a story with a happy ending. We found out this week that the bridges will, in fact, open early—on or before January 21, to be exact. ALDOT is hosting a Dedication Ceremony at 2PM Friday, January 17 to commemorate the occasion. 

While I wouldn’t exactly call this one a fairy tale, at least we can all count on our commutes getting a little easier—we hope. Now on to those potholes!