Interstate 20 East & 59 North - Jefferson County

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Interstate 20 East Interstate 59 U.S. 11 Alabama Route 5 North
3.6 miles from the county line is the first Jefferson County exit serving Rock Mountain Lakes to the west. Photo taken 08/10/02.
Situated just before the diamond interchange of Exit 104 is the two-mile guide sign for Exit 106. Exit 106 represents the southern terminus of the Birmingham Bypass - Interstate 459.
Widening of I-20/59 from Tuscaloosa County to the split with I-459 was underway in 2002. This ground level sign was replaced with a single pole overhead during that project. Photo taken 08/10/02.
Exit 104 departs I-20 east / I-59 north for McAshan Drive. McAshan Drive connects the freeway with parallel Rock Mountain Lake Road to the west and with Old Tuscaloosa County northeast to McCalla to the east. Photo taken 08/10/02.
I-20/59 northbound expand to four lanes in anticipation of the impending split with Interstate 459 north. Exit 106 allows through-traffic to bypass the cities of Bessemer and Birmingham for long-distance destinations such as Atlanta and Chattanooga. Photo taken 08/10/02.
I-20 east / I-59 north reach the off-ramp (Exit 106) for Interstate 459 north. The 33.34-mile route varies between four and six lanes while carrying a 65 miles per hour speed limit. Photo taken 08/10/02.
The six lane expansion of I-20/59 from east of Tuscaloosa concludes at the Exit 106 split with Interstate 459. Both routes carry four overall lanes through Bessemer, with commercial development ramped at the next exit of each route. Interstate 459 serves as a commuter route for Hoover, Vestavia Hills and Irondale along its course east to I-20 (to Atlanta) and I-59 (to Gadsden). Photo taken 08/30/11.
The gore point sign for Exit 106 features an Interstate 459 shield. Presently a trumpet interchange facilitates movements between both freeways. The Birmingham North Belt Line (Interstate 422) is proposed to end at this interchange from Rock Mountain and Hueytown to the north. Photo taken 08/10/02.
Continuing northeast from I-459, drivers approach the city of Bessemer beyond this set of reassurance shields. Photo taken 11/04/09.
U.S. 11 & SR 5 north part ways with I-20 east / I-59 north at a diamond interchange (Exit 108) with Academy Drive in one mile. Photo taken 11/04/09.
U.S. 11 and SR 5 briefly travel Academy Drive before turning northeast along the Bessemer Super Highway (9th Avenue SW). This divided highway travels through the heart of Bessemer, continuing from there to Brighton and Midfield. Photo taken 11/04/09.
Exit 108 leaves I-20 east / I-59 north for Academy Drive and 9th Street SW (U.S. 11 & SR 5 north). Academy Drive continues west from the freeway to Powder Plant Road and east to 4th Avenue SW (County Road 20). Photo taken 11/04/09.
Interstate 20 East Interstate 59 North
The next three interchanges also serve the city of Bessemer. Exit 110, a diamond interchange with Alabama Adventure Parkway, is one mile to the north. Photo taken 11/04/09.
Heading northeast, an area of retail occupies land between I-20/59 and parallel U.S. 11 & SR 5 (9th Avenue SW). U.S. 11 next meets I-20 and I-59 beyond their split in northeast Birmingham. Photo taken 11/04/09.
Alabama Adventure Parkway, originally named Visionland Parkway, connects I-20/59 with Splash Adventure water park and an outlet center to the west. The theme park was originally named Visionland and later Alabama Adventure before its 2012 name change and refocus into an aquatic theme park. Photo taken 11/04/09.
A second interchange sequence sign lists the distances to Exit 112 (18th and 19th Streets) and 113 (18th Avenue) in Bessemer. The sign likely predates the June 11, 2004 opening of diamond interchange (Exit 110) with Alabama Adventure Parkway. Photo taken 11/04/09.
Exit 110 departs I-20 east / I-59 north for Alabama Adventure Parkway. The east-west route ends at U.S. 11 & SR 5 nearby and at Powder Plant Road to the west. Photo taken 11/04/09.
I-20 & 59 between Interstate 459 and Exit 118 is designated the Alabama Adventure Freeway. Photo taken 11/04/09.
One mile south of the split diamond interchange (Exit 112) with 18th & 19th Streets, a one-way street couplet from 18th Avenue east to Downtown Bessemer. Photo taken 11/04/09.
Construction of I-20/59 occurred through Bessemer during the late 1970s. The 1977-completed interchange with 18th and 19th Streets replaced several blocks of the street grid.
Numbered streets in Bessemer use the Street suffix for northwest to southeast orientated roads and Avenue for the southwest to northeast roads. Thus 18th Avenue, which parallels I-20 & 59 northeast to Jaybird Road, meets the freeway at the next exit. Photo taken 11/04/09.
Exit 112 leaves the northbound freeway for 18th Street North to central Bessemer and 19th Street North to Hueytown. Photo taken 11/04/09.
18th Avenue and I-20/59 north come together at Exit 113 in one half mile beyond the crossing of Valley Creek and a Birmingham Southern Railroad. Photo taken 08/10/02.
Button copy sign posted one quarter mile south of the off-ramp (Exit 113) to 18th Avenue by Jaybird Road. Jaybird Road continues north into the city of Brighton and a half diamond interchange (Exit 115) with I-20 & 59. Photo taken 11/04/09.
Northbound motorists reach Exit 113 to 18th Avenue. 18th Avenue ends at Jaybird Road near Huntsville Avenue in Brighton. Huntsville Avenue connects Brighton with Lipscomb via Harmer Street. Photo taken 11/04/09.
I-20 east / I-59 north curve northward onto Flint Ridge and see this shield assembly posted ahead of the Woodward Road underpass in north Bessemer. Photo taken 11/04/09.
The one-mile guide sign for Exit 115 remains an original from the I-20/59 completion. Jaybird Road ends at Valley Drive just north of Exit 115.
Valley Road becomes Allison-Bonnett Memorial Drive upon entering the city limits of Hueytown near the community of Dolomite. Photo taken 11/04/09.
Northbound at Exit 115 to Jaybird Road to Valley Road. Return access to the freeway is located at a wye interchange from near Rutledge Road at the city of Midfield. Photo taken 11/04/09.
Turning northeast to the city of Fairfield, I-20/59 travel alongside Valley Road to a modified diamond interchange (Exit 118) between the two. Exit 119A follows also at Fairfield. Photo taken 11/04/09.
One half mile south of Exit 118 to E.J. Oliver Boulevard and the Miles College Historic District. E.J. Oliver Road leads north from a USS Steel plant to Valley Road under I-20 & 59. Photo taken 11/04/09.
I-20 east / I-59 north part ways with the off-ramp (Exit 118) to Valley Road via E.J. Oliver Boulevard. Donald Parkway extends Valley Road through Fairfield east to a half diamond interchange (Exit 119B) with the freeway. Photo taken 11/04/09.
With the advent of traffic from Exit 118, I-20/59 expands from four to six overall travel lanes. Photo taken 11/04/09.
Lloyd Noland Parkway winds northward through the city of Fairfield from 49th Street to become Avenue E at the Birmingham city line north of I-20/59 (Exit 119A).
This north-south parkway was named for Lloyd Noland Hospital. That facility was purchased by HealthSouth in the 1990s, which led to the parkway being renamed after then-CEO Richard M. Scrushy. The name change was short lived, with Lloyd Noland's name restored by Fairfield city council on September 13, 2007 after Scrushy's involvement in a multi-billion dollar accounting fraud. Photo taken 11/04/09.
Northbound drivers span both Avenue I and 34th Street and enter the city of Birmingham, one mile south of the split diamond interchange with Ensley Avenue and SR 269 (20th Street). Photo taken 11/04/09.
This pair of shields was posted beyond the half diamond interchange (Exit 119B on I-20 west & 59 south) with 34th Street and Avenue I. These were missing by 2008. Photo taken 08/10/02.
Ensley Avenue leads south from SR 269 (20th Street) and the Ensley neighborhood to become Avenue W at Five Points and U.S. 11 & SR 5 (Bessemer Road). SR 269 commences from just east of I-20/59 on a 41.52-mile trek to Maytown, Sylvan Springs and Jasper. Photo taken 11/04/09.
Arriving at the Exit 120 interchange, I-20/59 encountered this original set of button copy overheads. The SR 269 shield was the last known button copy state shield to survive along the Alabama Interstate system.
Button copy shields for I-20/59 were replaced throughout Birmingham by October 2003. The U.S. 78 and SR 269 shields held on for awhile longer before their replacement. Photo taken 08/10/02.
All traffic to both Ensley Avenue and SR 269 (20th Street) leaves I-20 east / I-59 north in unison at Exit 120. A service road connects the two surface roads.
SR 269 ends at 21st Street and Pike Road south of 19th Street and Bush Boulevard. There is no direct access to Bush Boulevard from the northbound freeway. Photo taken 11/04/09.
A half diamond interchange (Exit 121 for southbound) adds traffic to I-20 east / I-59 north from Bush Boulevard ahead of these reassurance markers. Photo taken 10/20/12.
I-20/59 turn to a more east-west fashion on their approach to downtown Birmingham. While doing this, the pair encounter U.S. 78 (Arkadelphia Road) at a parclo interchange (Exit 123). Arkadelphia Road constitutes a four lane arterial serving the Owenton and East Thomas neighborhoods of the city and interests to Birmingham Southern College and Legion Field, home of UAB Blazers football. Photo taken 10/20/12.
U.S. 78 east joins U.S. 11 (3rd Avenue West) north, 1.1 miles south of Exit 123 for an overlap to the Birmingham central business district. Northward, U.S. 78 turns west onto the Bankhead Highway at the Arkadelphia Road intersection with Finley Boulevard at Thomas. SR 5, not shown on Exit 123 guide signs, enters U.S. 78 from U.S. 11 north. The state route continues with the US route northwest to the Walker County seat of Jasper. Photo taken 10/20/12.
A look at the Exit 123 sign bridge when button copy shields for I-20 east / I-59 north were still posted. Much of U.S. 78 west from Graysville was subsumed by Corridor X / Interstate 22, leaving SR 118 along the original U.S. 78 alignment from Sumiton to Jasper and points west. Photo taken 08/10/02.
Traveling across the East Thomas neighborhood of the city, I-20/59 next approach Exits 124A/B with Interstate 65. The forthcoming directional interchange is locally known as "Malfunction Junction" due to the left side entrance and exit ramps associated with each direction. Photo taken 10/20/12.
Reassurance markers for I-20 east / I-59 north posted ahead of the Center Street overpass. Exit 124A ahead onto Interstate 65 south serves the western reaches of downtown Birmingham and the University of Alabama at Birmingham campus. Photo taken 10/20/12.
The skyline of downtown Birmingham comes into view as the roadways of I-20/59 separate into "Malfunction Junction". Photo taken 10/20/12.
Two lanes prepare to depart for Interstate 65 south (Exit 124A) to Homewood, Hoover and Montgomery. Exit 124B follows on the left to Fultondale, Cullman and Huntsville. Original guide signs for I-65 north included Nashville as the control city. The switch of the northbound control city to Huntsville occurred in the 1980s.1 Photo taken 10/20/12.
Exit 124A departs for Interstate 65 southbound. The travel lanes of Interstate 20-59 east briefly cross over their westbound counterpart to allow for a shorter left side ramp for Exit 124B. This configuration occurs for all roadways along Interstates 20, 59, and 65. Photo taken 10/20/12.
93 miles to the north of Exit 124B lies the city of Huntsville, Alabama. While Interstate 65 does not directly travel to the Madison County seat, Interstate 565 does.
I-65 north meets the east end of Interstate 22 in three miles between North Birmingham and Lewisburg. Photo taken 10/20/12.
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Southward views from within "Malfunction Junction" showing the reversed roadways of Interstate 65 below I-20 & 59 and Red Mountain along the horizon. Photos taken 10/20/12.
Construction between 2016 and 2020 rebuilds I-59/20 from I-65 to U.S. 31/280 (Elton B. Stephens Expressway). The 1971-built viaduct will be torn down and replaced with a new ten-lane viaduct system. Ramps to and from Downtown will be replaced as well.
Upon passing Malfunction Junction, the skyline of Birmingham spreads into view. The tallest high-rises of Birmingham can be no higher than 454 feet. This restriction is mandated by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) due to the proximity of the central business district to the Birmingham International Airport (BHM) flight path.2 Photo taken 04/14/13.
Downtown points of interests include the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute via Exit 125A and Civic Center Plaza via Exits 125A and 125B. Photo taken 11/03/11.
Five lanes of I-20 east / I-59 north travel a viaduct above 15th and 16th Streets North and quickly encounter the first of two downtown area exits. The first is Exit 125A with 17th Street and the second (Exit 125B) with 22nd Street North by the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. Photo taken 11/03/11.
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Two lanes depart for 17th Street south into the central business district of Birmingham. 17th Street is also home to Kelly Ingram Park, one of two area city parks. Across from this green space is the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
The button copy shields for Interstate 20-59 on the pull-through panel were replaced between August and September of 2003. Photo taken 08/10/02. Second photo taken 11/03/11.
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Exit 125B approaches in one quarter mile for 26th Street. This off-ramp serves the Jefferson County Court House, the city of Birmingham Public Library, Lynn Park and its bubbling fountain, and other downtown area interests. Exit 126A follows with U.S. 31 and U.S. 280 east (Elton B. Stephens Expressway). Photo taken 08/10/02. Second photo taken 10/20/12.
Interstates 20-59 eastbound at the 22nd Street off-ramp. Ahead is the stack interchange with U.S. 31 and the western terminus of U.S. 280 (Exit 126A). The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and Birmingham City Hall are also served by Exit 125B. Both facilities are located two blocks away from the freeway viaduct. Photo taken 10/20/12.
The third downtown area exit of I-20 east / I-59 north is Exit 126A with the Elton B. Stephens Expressway (U.S. 31 & 280). The limited access highway begins beneath the I-20/59 viaduct from Carraway Boulevard and travels south along the eastern periphery of the CBD, ascending over Red Mountain near the Vulcan Statue and Park toward Homewood. Photo taken 10/20/12.
Exit 126A partitions into flyover ramps for U.S. 31 south & 280 east and 26th Street North to Carraway Boulevard (U.S. 31 north). While the U.S. 31-280 freeway is officially designated the Elton B. Stephens Expressway, it is also shown on maps and referred to on area traffic reports as the Red Mountain Expressway. Photo taken 08/10/02.
Clearview signs replaced the overheads at the Exit 126A split by 2011. This interchange represents the western terminus of U.S. 280. U.S. 280 heads east from Birmingham to Blichton, Georgia along a 392-mile course. Photo taken 10/20/12.
Passing over Carraway Boulevard, the ramps from I-20 west / I-59 south onto the Elton B. Stephens Expressway come into view below. The original alignment of U.S. 31 through the downtown area was along 26th Street south to 8th Avenue and an overlap with U.S. 78 along 24th Street. Carraway Boulevard extends from 26th Street northward to the Norwood neighborhood of the city. Photo taken 11/03/11.
Exit 126B (31st Street), as evidenced by this overhead sign, leads to the Sloss Furnaces, a local historical attraction. The Sloss Furnaces were used for iron ore smelting between 1882 and 1972, a span of 90 years. After the furnaces were closed, they were transitioned into a tourist attraction, to show how iron was smelted at the turn of the century. Locals are proud of these furnaces, complete with tall smokestacks, and they are seen as a symbol of Birmingham, a tribute to its industrial past and future. In addition, the furnaces are now used as an exhibition hall. Photo taken 11/03/11.
East of the U.S. 280 terminal interchange, I-20/59 descend to at-grade and encounter the diamond interchange (Exit 126B) with 31st Street. 31st Street facilitates travel through older industrial areas of the city (including the Sloss Furnaces) to the south and the neighborhood of Norwood to the north. Photo taken 11/03/11.
Reassurance shields attached to a light post for I-20 east / I-59 north. The freeway leaves the Norwood neighborhood for East Birmingham. Photo taken 11/03/11.
Exits for Tallapoosa Street (SR 79 north) and Airport Boulevard lie within the next 2.5 miles at the Vanderbilt and Eastwood communities of the city. Photo taken 11/03/11.
Approaching the eastern split of Interstates 20 and 59 (Exit 130), the freeway narrows to six lanes beyond the off-ramp (Exit 128) to SR 79 (Tallapoosa Street) north. SR 79 ventures northward from Birmingham to Tarrant City and ultimately Huntsville. Photo taken 04/14/13.
A viaduct carries motorists over 39th Street North, Appalachee Street and Coosa Streets ahead of the modified diamond interchange with Tallapoosa Street. A directional ramp links I-20 east / I-59 north with SR 79 north to Tarrant City, Robinwood and Pinson. Photo taken 04/14/13.
Two lanes depart I-20 east / I-59 north for SR 79 (Tallapoosa Street) North. Photo taken 04/14/13.
SR 79 originally followed Vanderbilt Road southwest from Tallapoosa Street to 12th Avenue North and an end at U.S. 31 (26th Street North). Photo taken 04/14/13.
A ground level sign posted above Tallapoosa Street lies two miles ahead of the Exit 130 trumpet interchange where Interstate 20 leaves I-59 for Anniston and Atlanta. Photo taken 11/03/11.
A set of older design shields for I-20 east / I-59 north was posted after the 40th Street north and Tallapoosa Street south on-ramp. These shields are no longer in place. Photo taken 09/27/03.
Forthcoming Airport Boulevard joins I-20/59 with the terminal of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport via Exit 129. The Southern Museum of Flight is located east of the airport at 73th Street North and 43th Avenue North. Photo taken 11/03/11.
Diagrammatic overhead signage, posted one mile west of the split of Interstates 20 and 59 at Exit 130. Aside from Interstates 80 and 90 in Ohio and Indiana, this is one of the largest merged sections of Interstate in the country. Exit 129 departs in one quarter mile and serves the Eastwood, Avon Park, Kingston and Woodlawn neighborhoods via Airport Boulevard. Photo taken 11/03/12.
Exit 129 for Airport Boulevard departs I-20 east / I-59 north. The surface arterial ends at the airport terminal to the north. To the south, the roadway becomes the Messer-Airport Highway, traveling ultimately to downtown via 5th Avenue North.
Four lanes of freeway prepare to partition with three lanes continuing along Interstate 59 north to Trussville and two lanes allocated to Interstate 20 east to Leeds. Photo taken 11/03/11.
The Airport Boulevard on-ramp adds a fifth eastbound lane directly to Exit 130 and Interstate 20 east. Photo taken 11/03/12.
I-20 east / I-59 north conclude a 153 mile overlap at Exit 130. Expanding outwards of the Birmingham metro area, Interstate 59 travels to Gadsden, 52 miles to the northeast, and a terminus near Chattanooga, Tennessee in 131 miles. Interstate 20 takes a eastern trajectory to Anniston (55 miles) and Atlanta (135 miles), ultimately ending at Interstate 95 in Florence, South Carolina. Photo taken 11/03/11.
A shot of the departing Interstate 20 east (Exit 130) from the Interstate 59 northbound mainline. The trumpet interchange of Exit 130 sees tight ramps for the I-20 mainline. Photo taken 11/03/11.

  1. Interstate 65 control city information courtesy Kyle H Davis and Chris Patriarca.
  2. Cozart, Justin. Email "IH 65" October 15, 2003.

Photo Credits:

  • 08/10/02 by AARoads.
  • 09/27/03 by AARoads.
  • 11/04/09 by AARoads.
  • 08/30/11 by Carter Buchanan.
  • 11/03/11 by AARoads.
  • 10/20/12 by AARoads.
  • 11/03/12 by AARoads.
  • 04/14/13 by AARoads.

Connect with:
Interstate 65
Interstate 459
U.S. 31

Page Updated 02-18-2016.