The Northern Beltline here in Birmingham is making some news. It has a new number, I-422, and if all goes well it’ll be completed within 6 years. One section should go under construction late this year.
Even after most of US 11 had been converted to a freeway in 1955, and I-59/20 upgrades were planned for the city, it was well known that bypass routes were needed for thru traffic and the growing suburbs. The “Yellow Book” (thanks, Adam Froehlig) show the recommended secondary routes for Birmingham.
The southern beltline was I-59B for a short while (that was before my time) but became I-459. It was completed on Feb. 11, 1984. Total cost was $232 million. A couple interesting things about that route. First, it has two 4-level stack interchanges, at I-65 and I-20. Second, it has 3 lanes in each direction, and for the older parts (in the southwest), the fast lanes were restricted to whites only. In 1971 Congress basically said if you don’t knock it off, we’re cutting your highway funding, so the state took those signs down. Some people say carpool lanes are the same thing, and nobody complains about those. All I’m going to say is, this is not a political blog, so I won’t discuss that here.
The Northern Beltline has lagged for decades because of resistance to the name. People didn’t want to have anything to do with the North. But Rep. Shelby secured about $60M in 2001 for the route, and it has picked up momentum ever since. Getting US 78 designated as I-22 helped a lot, and calling the beltline I-422 makes sense. But the working name is Alabama 959, and I think I-959 would have been pretty cool.
You might have noticed I-220 in the Yellow Book diagram above. Information on that route has been hard to find. There are a few docs in the UAB library that have I-220 as a line item, and that’s about it. However, I-220 is roughly in the Northern Beltine corridor, so by 2015 it probably will exist — but just as part of I-422.
Corridor X-1 (aaroads)
Environmentalists don’t like it