ALDOT aims to complete CityWalk BHAM before The World Games 2022

CityWalk BHAM Park
CityWalk BHAM conceptual designs. Rendering via David Baker Architects on Facebook

Ever since I first saw the awe-inspiring lights under the new I-59/20 bridge, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the completion of CityWalk BHAM. Turns out, CityWalk BHAM could be here sooner than you think.

What is CityWalk BHAM?

CityWalk BHAM
CityWalk BHAM conceptual designs. Rendering via David Baker Architects on Facebook

On a drive through downtown Birmingham at night, it’s nearly impossible to miss the unique light display under the I-59/20 bridge. Since the lights first made their debut in April last year, they’ve been an instant hit. However, the lights are only a small taste of what’s to come.

For several years, ALDOT has been planning a massive, 31-acre park under the I-59/20 bridge, along a linear section of the interstate between 15th Street North and 25th Street North. And here’s the good news. We don’t have to wait too much longer—CityWalk BHAM is scheduled to complete before The World Games 2022 in July.

I can’t wait for CityWalk BHAM, and I’ll tell you why. Since I first moved to The Magic City, I’ve wanted to see a more active, walkable downtown. In my humble opinion, CityWalk BHAM is a gigantic step forward for a pedestrian-friendly Birmingham.

CityWalk BHAM by the Numbers

CityWalk BHAM Park
CityWalk BHAM conceptual designs. Rendering via David Baker Architects on Facebook

Under the linear, ten-block segment of I-59/20, the CityWalk BHAM Masterplan lists eight sections of the park, each offering something different.

As Will Ferrel’s character said in Step Brothers, “There is so much room for activities!”

Let’s take a look.

1. “Don’t kick the ball onto the interstate!”

CityWalk BHAM
A big, wide-open space downtown for sports. Photo via CityWalk BHAM.

Along the 15th to 16th Street block, the western-most section of CityWalk BHAM will be home to a state-of-the-art recreational park. In the section, you’ll find a gathering space, a quarter-mile walking trail and several artificial-turf fields perfect for all kinds of sports! Think soccer, kickball, football, and more—the possibilities are endless.

2. Birmingham’s Biggest Dedicated Skate Park

CityWalk BHAM Skate Park
I’m not a skater, but I can’t wait to drop by and watch the experts. Photo via CityWalk BHAM.

Aside from the concrete basins at Railroad Park and the makeshift ramps by the Carraway exit, Birmingham hasn’t offered much to the local skating community. But that’s about to change. The 16th to 18th Street block will include a large skating rink—full of ramps, rails, basins and more skating terms I’m unfamiliar with.

In addition to the skate park, this section will be dotted with other recreational equipment, such as a climbing zone.

3. Let’s have class under the interstate!

CityWalk BHAM
I love the idea of new green space downtown. Photo via CityWalk BHAM.

As a kid, I always loved the occasional outdoor class in elementary school. Now, imagine how much more fun it’ll be to have a class under the interstate? Under the 18th to 19th Street block, you’ll find parking, several children’s playgrounds and a brand-new outdoor classroom!

4. Shakespeare In the Park Under the Bridge

Central Gathering Space
This rendering looks impressive—imagine what it’ll look like in real life. Photo via CityWalk BHAM.

At the center of CityWalk BHAM, you’ll find more to do than you can shake a stick at. A large, central water feature will definitely catch the eye, but don’t miss the public art displays! Located between 19th Street and Richard Arrington Boulevard, this section will also serve as an “extension” area for the BJCC and Birmingham Museum of Art.

With a large stage and central gathering space, I can see this section being a fan-favorite for outdoor concerts and plays!

5. An Outdoor Market Space

Shrubbery
I wonder if these shrubberies will come from Roger the Shrubber?. Photo via CityWalk BHAM.

Located between Richard Arrington Boulevard and 22nd Street, this section will offer even more downtown parking and an area for a cute marketplace.

6. Beer and Wine Garden, Food Trucks and Public Art Throughout

Food and Beer
Imagine grabbing a bite and a drink in this open-air area. Photo via CityWalk BHAM.

Birmingham is well-renowned for its food and beer scene, so it makes sense to incorporate the city’s strengths into CityWalk BHAM. In the 22nd to 23rd Street block, you can visit a beer & wine garden and be surprised each day with new food trucks. Oh, and you’ll also find public art displays throughout this block.

7. Your Dog’s New Favorite Spot

Dog Park
Who will have more fun here, you or your dog? My bet is on your dog. Photo via CityWalk BHAM.

Welcome to Fido’s new favorite destination. The 23rd to 24th Street block of CityWalk BHAM includes what just may be the biggest dedicated dog park in downtown Birmingham.

8. Tailgating Central

Lake
I can already tell this will be my favorite section of CityWalk BHAM. I love a good pond. Photo via CityWalk BHAM.

Finally, we’ve arrived at the eastern-most section of CityWalk BHAM. Here, you can take the walking path loop over the water feature before visiting the urban farming area. Plus, the open lawn will be perfect for tailgating parties for future UAB Football games.

Excited for CityWalk BHAM? You Won’t Have to Wait Long.

I-59/20 Bridge Lights
By mid-2022, the bridge lights won’t be the only exciting thing under I-59/20. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

CityWalk BHAM could be here sooner than you think. According to Public Information Officer Linda Crockett, ALDOT will Let the project and look over bids for the contractors later this month.

“The project is scheduled to be Let February 22.  We will not have a contractor until after the project is Let and we have had a chance to look over the bids.  Our plans are to have CityWalk Bham finished in time for the World Games, weather permitting.”

Linda Crockett, Public Information Officer, ALDOT

I can’t wait to frolic in the park.

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Nathan Watson
Tennessee native who fell in love with Birmingham during college. Graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 2019. Passionate about Birmingham and its continued growth.
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