This appears to be the northern half of the Interstate 459 beltway that skirts the southern metro limits of Birmingham. If it is built to Interstate specifications, this corridor would probably become part of a full Interstate 459 beltway.
With a new Interstate highway along the northern reaches of the Birmingham Metropolitan Area, the tinier northern suburbs hope to jump on the "growth bandwagon" that has helped the southern suburbs gain economic prominence. Additionally, the state highways in this area are well-traveled and could certainly use some relief.
According to Clark Stewart, the Birmingham Northern Beltline Corridor was funded in September 1999. I've been unable to confirm this.
On January 7, 2001, in the Birmingham News "Driver's Side" column written by Ginny McDonald, a question about the final segment of the Interstate 459 bypass around the city was answered by referring to our AARoads.com web site. This bit of publicity amounted to a week-long stint of over 4,000 hits daily to the site. Unfortunately, we don't have any detailed maps or other information about this proposed beltline. A better source may be the Alabama Department of Transportation.
Interstate 459 - Southern Birmingham Beltway
Interstate 459 was built in the 1970s and 1980s as a southerly bypass around Birmingham. My 1960 Rand McNally map of Alabama shows this road proposed as "Interstate 59B," but that designation has long since been replaced with Interstate 459. Interstate 459 is signed as north-south for its entire length. Although the 1960 map does not show it, I suspect that Interstate 459 was intended to be a complete 360 degree beltway around the entire city, but it was never fully constructed.
The city of Birmingham suffered a serious political, economic, and social decline over the past twenty years. Most retail activity, along with a significant portion of the middle-class white population of the city, moved out of the center city and into the southern suburbs--in the direction of the area where Interstate 459 was built.
Many of the communities in Hoover, Riverchase, Inverness, and Shelby Counties grew dramatically as a result of this flight and the rapidly expanding suburbs. This expansion toward the south led to Interstate 459, which provided connections not only to the city, but also to the other suburbs. So the question remains: Did the Interstate bring on the growth, or did the growth bring on the Interstate? It's hard to say, but the flight from the Birmingham inner city surely had something to do with the economic growth of the Interstate 459 corridor, while the Interstate 459 corridor's growth prompted folks to come to the suburbs and leave the blighted areas of Birmingham.
Based on this background, Interstate 459 has seen an explosion in development and new businesses along its routing. Two examples of this are the Birmingham suburb of Hoover (a growing community near the Interstate 459/U.S. 31/Interstate 65 interchange) and the commercial facilities and office buildings at the Interstate 459/U.S. 280 interchange. Needless to say, Interstate 459 through this area is fairly busy.
Interstate 459 is six lanes for most of its route, between Exit 6 (Jefferson County Route 52) and its northeastern terminus at Interstate 59. It was built as a six-lane bypass except at its southwestern extreme, Interstate 459 initially had a wide, grassy median. Parts of the median was paved over recently, to allow for wider left-hand shoulders. It is likely that once money is found to widen the bridges along Interstate 459, an additional lane in each direction will be christened. This will bring the lane count to eight total for some portions of the current Interstate 459 bypass around Interstate 65 and U.S. 31.
According to Adam Froehlig, Alabama DOT could "squeeze another lane inside the left shoulder, but it would leave a left shoulder of below-standard width. It would also require the mentioned bridge work, plus new pavement for the lane itself. The long-range plan calls for interchange improvements at Interstate 459/U.S. 31 roughly in the 15-year timeframe, and improvements/possible lane additions between U.S. 31 and Interstate 20 in the 20-year frame. The northern beltline also is within the 20-year frame. My source said that the long-range projects plan will be updated either by 2000 or 2001, so don't hold your breath on those timeframes."
Page Updated November 25, 2003.