Birmingham Bridges Coming Down

posted via LinkedIn on January 2, 2019

I will be honest with you, I’m not excited about the busiest section of Alabama Interstate bridges coming down. But, I remember walking near the convention center in Downtown Birmingham several years ago and seeing pieces of the interstate strewn about the concrete below, near parked vehicles. These bridges have literally been falling a part for years — like many other massive projects we are tackling — and renovation cannot be put off any longer.

The 59/20 project, led by the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), has explained the process, including rationale, maps, and more here:

In the meantime, the City of Birmingham has been busy preparing our employees, customers, and citizens to minimize disruption to City services and, in some cases, bolster support other resources such as ride sharing, smart phone technologies, and alternate scheduling — workplace innovations our City should be embracing anyway.

Find below some information we recently shared with our employees. Similar, relevant information is being shared with the public this week.

The Alabama Department of Transportation’s (ALDOT) I-59/20 bridge replacement project is nearing its most critical phase. In mid- to late January, ALDOT will close access to the central segment of I-59/20 through downtown Birmingham.

This will have a major impact for those traveling on I-59/20 from the I-65 interchange to Red Mountain Expressway. More specifically, it will heavily affect employees and visitors trying to access City Hall.

New Service Hours for the Public

In an effort to better serve the public and assist in reducing traffic congestion, the City of Birmingham will expand service hours for the public from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, effective on Monday January 14, 2019 for specific divisions. The Department of Finance’s Tax & Licensing and Cash Management divisions and the Department of Planning, Engineering and Permits’ One-Stop Permitting, Condemnation and Engineering field staff will provide extended hours. Their expanded hours will offer more opportunities for individuals needing to pay fees, apply for business licenses or other permits.

Again, the intent of this change in service hours is to better serve the public and to reduce the City of Birmingham’s impact on rush hour with the expanded hours.

Here is some information that will be helpful in the coming weeks for all employees.

What’s Happening?

The highlighted section of the interstate, as pictured on the attached map, will be completely shut down for 14 months starting in mid- to late January 2019. This will allow ALDOT to replace the aging bridge structure with a safer and more efficient elevated roadway system. For more detailed information on the project, please visit ALDOT’s project website:

Start Planning Now for Alternate Routes

This project will significantly affect travel in and out of downtown Birmingham for City of Birmingham employees living throughout the region. Some routes will be impacted more than others. City of Birmingham employees are encouraged to start planning now on using alternate routes. Employees should take note of the alternate routes listed on this page to travel around the city.

Drivers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with these alternate routes prior to the closure of the 59/20 bridge.

Use Technology: WAZE, Apple Maps, and Google Maps

Smartphone users are encouraged to use map apps on their phones to find the best routes into work. These include WAZE, Apple Maps and Google Maps. All of these mapping applications attempt to keep up with road closures and congestion delays in as close to real time as possible. WAZE goes a step further by using crowd-sourced data to provide the most optimal routes. Motorists are encouraged to experiment with these apps to find the one that works best for them. Although the apps are not perfect, they are fairly reliable and beneficial. (Please consider downloading these apps now in order to test them out and become familiar with them before a portion of the interstate is completely shut down. Also, please know that any built-in navigation systems in your car are less likely to account for real-time road closure information).

Explore Alternative Modes

This is a great time to explore some of the alternate travel options that already exist in the region. The CommuteSmart program ( provides incentives for walking to work, riding transit, carpooling or cycling. Their website can assist in pairing motorists with a carpooling buddy. Please consider discussing carpooling options with coworkers at City Hall and other city offices or departments. Additionally, the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority operates the region’s local transit service, MAX. Their website can assist motorists in identifying a route that will work best for one’s needs. (

Consider How this will Impact the Services that You Provide

City of Birmingham employees are encouraged to talk to their supervisor on how the interstate construction may affect any of the basic services the employee provides as a part of their job, particularly if the employee’s position involves interacting with the public. Managers are encouraged to discuss their operations with their staff and with the department director to make any necessary adjustments. In some limited cases, directors may be able to adjust schedules to account for any disruptions caused by the 59/20 project. Please note that all proposed changes to schedules must be approved by the appropriate department director.

Consider How this Will Impact Your Before and After Work Schedule

Employees should think about how the construction project might impact their schedule when it comes to childcare, school and other important before and after work activities. Employees should talk to their supervisor if they feel that their schedule will be critically impacted. Again, please note that any adjustments to schedules need to be approved by the appropriate department director.


From I-65 from the North:

17th Street Exit

Or, Exit 262B/Finley Blvd to US 31 (Carraway Blvd)

From I-59/20 from the North/East (Roebuck/Irondale)

25th Street Exit (New exit being completed now)

Red Mountain Expressway to 6th Avenue North

31st Street to Reverend Abraham Woods Jr. Boulevard or 7th Avenue North

1st Avenue North

From I-59/20 from the South/West (Ensley)

17th Street Exit

Exit 123 (Arkadelphia Rd) to 8th Avenue West or Graymont Avenue

From I-65 from the South:

3rd Avenue North Exit

Or, 17th Street Exit

Ed Fields is a strategist, marketer, and fixer. He currently serves as Senior Advisor and Chief Strategist for the City of Birmingham Mayor’s Office.




Insights and revelry from a life well worn. Essayist, marketer, and strategist.

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Honestly Ed

Honestly Ed

Insights and revelry from a life well worn. Essayist, marketer, and strategist.

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