The I-59/20 rainbow lights through downtown are here to stay! (Photos+video)

Rainbow bridges on I-59/20 near UpTown. Photo by Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

Last April, in the midst of the COVID-19 shutdown, Birmingham was treated to a rainbow of lights that appeared on the newly opened I-59/20 bridges downtown. 

After a while, they disappeared. Now they are back permanently.

One of a Kind

Who can forget the past two years when ALDOT removed and constructed the new I-59/20 bridges that bisect downtown. Unbeknownst to many of us, the plan has always been to install a huge one of a kind lighting installation under and along the new bridges.

According to Steve Haynes, Assistant Region Engineer for ALDOT, who oversees the design underneath the new I 59/20 bridges, the lighting will be a permanent fixture.

As you can tell from our photos and video, colorful lights cast a “glow” on the columns, while the ribbon lighting accentuates the bridge structure.

“The lights will be controlled, so the colors will change regularly,” said Haynes. For instance, on Valentine’s Day the bridges could be red. During UAB home football games, the bridges can turn green and gold.”

I-59/20 rainbow bridges – Valentine’s Day colors. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now
I-59/20 rainbow bridges – UAB colors. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

For the next month, if you do plan a visit, be mindful, ALDOT is still installing the lighting and working out the bugs.


A map outlining the proposed public space, via ALDOT

More good news! Along with the new lights, in January or February, ALDOT will start designing and building Citywalk, the new and exciting public space underneath the bridges. 

“I’m really excited for the city of Birmingham because the lighting and Citywalk are going to put it on the map, there is no doubt about it,’ exclaimed Haynes.

The Citywalk is expected to open just in time for the World Games.

City of Lights

If Birmingham can keep this up, we just might earn the title “The City of Lights” (I see you shaking your head – but Paris is The City of Light – which stands for the enlightenment).

We are getting there.

The Rainbow Tunnel

Rainbow Tunnel in Birmingham. Photo by Matthew Niblett for Bham Now


Birmingham, Vulcan Park and Museum, Magic of Lights: Vulcan's Light Experience, Christmas lights, holiday lights
Photo by Joshua Moman via Vulcan Park and Museum on Facebook

Stay Tuned

After the I-59/20 bridges what’s next?  We’d love to hear from you.  What else should we shine a light on? Send us an email at

Meanwhile, tag Bham Now on social with your favorite pictures of the rainbow bridges.

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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