Interstate 20 West & 59 South - Jefferson County

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Interstate 20 West Interstate 59 South
Exit 129 with Airport Boulevard immediately follows the westbound merge of Interstates 20 and 59. Photo taken 06/12/08.
The next three interchanges serve residential areas northeast of downtown Birmingham including Woodlawn, Kingston, East Birmingham and Norwood. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Exit 130 consists of a parclo interchange with Airport Boulevard. Airport Boulevard heads north to the terminal of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport terminal and southwest from I-20/59 as the Messer-Airport Highway through industrial areas to 5th Avenue North and downtown. Photo taken 06/12/08.
The first pair of Interstate 20 and 59 reassurance shields for the 153 mile overlap included an older sign for I-20. Photo taken 09/27/03.
The on-ramp from Airport Boulevard adds an auxiliary lane to the modified diamond interchange (Exit 128) with SR 79 north (Tallapoosa Street) and 40th Street south. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Forthcoming Exit 128 serves the Vanderbilt and Inglenook neighborhoods north of I-20/59 and East Birmingham to the south. SR 79 sees its southern terminus at this interchange. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Two lanes depart from I-20/59 west for SR 79 north toward Tarrent City. SR 79 totals 117.61 miles overall between Birmingham and the Tennessee state line north of Hytop. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Descending along the off-ramp (Exit 128) to SR 79 (Tallapoosa Street) north and 40th Street south. SR 79 originally followed Vanderbilt Road southwest from Tallapoosa Street to 12th Avenue North and a conclusion at U.S. 31 (26th Street North). Photo taken 09/27/03.
I-20/59 curve southwest on the one-mile approach to the diamond interchange (Exit 126B) with 31st Street North. Photo taken 06/12/08.
A pair of reassurance markers precede the Norfolk Southern and CSX Railroads under crossing at East Birmingham. Photo taken 04/14/13.
An interchange sequence sign lists 31st Street (Exit 126B), Carraway Boulevard (Exit 126A) and 22nd Street (Exit 125). Exit 126B serves interests to the Sloss Furnaces historic landmark and the following two exits serves traffic to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. Photo taken 04/14/13.
Motorists bound for the University of Alabama at Birmingham or its medical campus should follow U.S. 31 south & 280 east to SR 149 (University Boulevard) via Exit 126A in one mile. Photo taken 04/14/13.
Exit 126B departs I-20 west / I-59 south for 31st Street and the Norwood community. U.S. 31 & 280 meet the freeway at Carraway Boulevard north and Elton B. Stephens Expressway south. A diagrammatic overhead prepares drivers for the left side ramp to 22nd Street (Exit 125) beyond the directional T interchange at Exit 126A. Photo taken 04/14/13.
Two miles ahead of Interstate 65 at the 31st Street North overpass. A green overlay used on the button copy panel replaced Nashville with Huntsville as the northbound control city for I-65. All I-65 north signs through Birmingham were changed in the mid-1990s to reflect Huntsville. The I-65 South signs in Nashville changed the control city from Birmingham to Huntsville at the same time.1 Photo taken 04/14/13.
Construction between 2016 and 2020 rebuilds I-59/20 from U.S. 31/280 (Elton B. Stephens Expressway) to I-65. 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.
I-20 west / I-59 south briefly expand to five lanes between the 31st Street on-ramp and the two-lane off-ramp for U.S. 31 south & 280 east (Elton B. Stephens Expressway) and U.S. 31 (Carraway Boulevard) north. Photo taken 04/14/13.
I-20/59 elevate onto a viaduct from U.S. 31 & 280 westward through the central business district to "Malfunction Junction". Exit 126A branches from the mainline here for the eastbound beginning of U.S. 280. U.S. 280 coincides with U.S. 31 south along Elton B. Stephens Expressway to Red Mountain and the city of Homewood. The 392-mile route joins Birmingham with Childersburg, Sylacauga and Auburn-Opelika to the southeast. Photo taken 04/14/13.
Following Exit 126A, motorists partition into a flyover ramp onto U.S. 31 south & 280 east and a loop ramp onto 11th Avenue North a block west of Carraway Boulevard. U.S. 31 follows Carraway Boulevard / 26th Street North to the community of North Birmingham. Richard Arrington, Jr. Boulevard (10th Avenue North) leads three blocks west from the 11th Avenue off-ramp to the Civic Center. Photo taken 06/12/08.
The sweeping flyover to U.S. 31 south & 280 east splits again with a ramp joining 26th Street North, three blocks south of its merge with Carraway Boulevard. Historically U.S. 31 followed 8th Avenue North two blocks west from 26th Street North to merge with U.S. 78 and 280 along 24th Street. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Ramps from both directions of I-20/59 combine and merge with U.S. 31 southbound traffic from Carraway Boulevard. U.S. 280 begins here and follows U.S. 31 south to Rosedale Drive in Homewood. Old U.S. 31 & 280 utilized 24th Street south from U.S. 78 (3rd Avenue South) to 7th Avenue South and 20th Street South to their original split at Highland Avenue. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Exit 125 departs from within the interchange with U.S. 31 & 280 for 22nd Street North to the central business district of Birmingham. The left side off-ramp to 22nd Street serves the Jefferson County Courthouse, Lynn Park, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the Birmingham City Library among other Downtown points of interest. Photo taken 04/14/13.
The Birmingham skyline comes into view as I-20 & 59 curves southwest to parallel 9th Avenue North. The tallest buildings 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.
Exit 125 drops from the I-20/59 viaduct to 22nd Street. Westbound travelers continue one mile to Exits 124B/A with Interstate 65. Photo taken 04/14/13.
The six lane viaduct running along northern areas of Downtown was completed in 1971. Photo taken 04/14/13.
The elevated roadway passes above 9th Avenue North by the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. Photo taken 04/14/13.
The on-ramp from Richard Arrington, Jr. Boulevard (21st Street North) adds a fourth westbound lane to Interstate 65. Locally known as "Malfunction Junction", Exits 124B/A uses left side ramps in all directions.
The sign bridge pictured here was installed in the early 2000s. Photo taken 04/14/13.
Bending northwest from the viaduct above 15th Street North, Interstates 20 west & 59 north enter the four-wye interchange (Exit 124) with Interstate 65. This exchange features the unusual configuration where the westbound Interstate 20-59 roadway actually switches sides with the eastbound roadway. This orientation allows for short left side on and off-ramps between both freeways. Photo taken 04/14/13.
2003 reconstruction of "Malfunction Junction" expanded Interstate 65 to six overall lanes through the interchange with I-20/59. Exit 124B was expanded to two lanes during this work and new signs were installed in all directions during the project. Photo taken 04/14/13.
The original sign bridge and button copy overheads that were replaced by summer 2003 during road work to expand Exits 124B/A into two lane ramps. Photo taken 02/11/01.
Exit 124A joins the left side of Interstate 65 south to Homewood, Vestavia Hills, Hoover and the Shelby County suburbs. Photo taken 04/14/13.
I-20/59 maintain six overall lanes through the exchange with Interstate 65. The overpasses in the background carry traffic of I-65 in reverse orientation. Photo taken 04/14/13.
Leaving "Malfunction Junction", I-20 west / I-59 south approach the Center Street overpass and Exit 123 with U.S. 78 & SR 5 (Arkadelphia Road). Arkadelphia Road carries U.S. 78 & SR 5 north from U.S. 11 (3rd Avenue West) to Bankhead Highway at Finley Boulevard. Photo taken 10/20/12.
A look at the button copy signage for Exit 123 when the pull through panel included original I-20/59 button copy shields. U.S. 78 was vastly replaced by Interstate 22. The control city and Walker County seat of Jasper is 31 miles to the northwest. Photo taken 02/11/01.
Shield assembly for I-20 west / I-59 south posted as the freeway enters the East Thomas neighborhood of Birmingham. Photo taken 10/20/12.
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2 photos
Forthcoming Exit 123 claims the right lane of I-20/59 south for U.S. 78 (Arkadelphia Road). The original button copy overhead sign assembly was knocked down in 2008 and replaced with a new Clearview-font based sign by 2012.
Exit 123 serves interests to adjacent Birmingham Southern College and Legion Field, a city-run stadium that hosts University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers (UAB) home football games. Photo taken 09/27/03. Second photo taken 10/20/12.
Exit 123 consists of a parclo interchange with Arkadelphia Road. SR 5 overlaps with U.S. 78 from U.S. 11 northwest to Interstate 22 (Exit 85) and along former U.S. 78 to Jasper. The state route is not acknowledged on guide signs in either direction of I-20/59. Otherwise this interchange serves the Birmingham city neighborhoods of Thomas, East Thomas, Owenton and Smithfield. Photo taken 10/20/12.
A large swath of pavement appears along the north side of I-20/59 as the freeway passes by a quarry near East Thomas Gardens. The pavement may have been used during construction of the freeway. Photo taken 10/20/12.
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2 photos
Bending southwest from the Owenton area, drivers along I-20 west / I-59 south next meet Bush Boulevard at the half diamond interchange of Exit 121. Bush Boulevard comprises a tree lined boulevard east to 8th Avenue West near Birmingham Southern College. Photo taken 02/11/01. Second photo taken 10/20/12.
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2 photos
Two interchanges of I-20/59 south serve the Ensley neighborhood of Birmingham. Exit 121 departs here for Bush Boulevard west to Avenue V and 19th Street just ahead of a split-diamond interchange for SR 269 (20th Street) north and Ensley Avenue. Photo taken 02/11/01. Second photo taken 10/20/12.
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2 photos
Exit 120 quickly follows onto 20th Street and SR 269 north to Sylvan Springs and Jasper. Service roads connect 20th Street with Ensley Avenue nearby. Ensley Avenue leads southeast from I-20-59 to the former sites of the Alabama State Fairgrounds and Birmingham International Raceway (demolished in January 2009). Photo taken 09/27/03. Second photo taken 06/12/08.
The last Birmingham city interchange is the half diamond (Exit 119B) with Avenue I. Avenue I leads northeast from Valley Road near Oak Hills to Ensley. The southwest to northeast surface streets in this portion of the city carry alphabetic names. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Exit 119B leaves I-20 west / I-59 south for Avenue I at 33rd Street in Ensley. A diamond interchange (Exit 119A) quickly follows with Lloyd Noland Parkway at the city of Fairfield. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Exit 119A parts ways with I-20/59 for Lloyd Noland Parkway. This north-south boulevard was renamed to R.M. Scrushy Parkway, after the HealthSouth CEO, during the 1990s when the corporation purchased the original Lloyd Noland Hospital in Fairfield. A $2.7-billion accounting fraud scandal involving HealthSouth ensued that ultimately lead to the demise of Scrushy.3 Fairfield city county voted to restore the name of Lloyd Noland on the parkway on September 13, 2007.4 Photo taken 06/12/08.
The second interchange for the city of Fairfield joins I-20 & 59 with Valley Road. Exit 118 claims the right lane as the freeway reduces to four overall lanes southwest through Midfield and Bessemer. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Frontage to the west of I-20/59 remains industrial alongside the Birmingham Southern Railroad. Miles College and the Miles College historic district reside to the southeast of upcoming Exit 118. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Entering the modified diamond interchange (Exit 118) with Valley Drive and E.J. Oliver Parkway south along I-20 west / I-59 south. Valley Road continues alongside the freeway to become Allison-Bonnett Memorial Drive at Hueytown. Photo taken 06/12/08.
I-20/59 become the Alabama Adventure Freeway between Exit 118 and the south end of Interstate 459. The promotional naming relates to former Alabama Adventure theme park in Bessemer off Exit 110. The park has undergone several changes since opening in 1998 as Visionland to its 2012 rebranding and refocus as a water park named Alabama Splash Adventure. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Reaching the northern wedge of Midfield, I-20/59 see a wye interchange (Exit 115) connecting the freeway with the adjacent Allison-Bonnett Memorial Drive. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Allison-Bonnett Memorial Drive connects Valley Road at I-20/59 with Hueytown to the west. The east-west highway, originally named Warrior River Road, was renamed in the early 1990s after the Allison family (Bobby, Donnie, Davey and Clifford) and Neil Bonnett, all of whom were NASCAR drivers based out of Hueytown.5 Photo taken 06/12/08.
Two lanes depart I-20 west / I-59 south at Exit 115 for Hueytown and Rutledge Drive east to Midfield. Allison-Bonnett Memorial Drive becomes Warrior Road (Jefferson County 46) beyond the Hueytown city line en route to Concord. Photo taken 06/12/08.
I-20/59 wind southward along western reaches of Brighton to a diamond interchange (Exit 113) with 18th Avenue. Connections with nearby Huntsville Avenue and Harmer Street lead drivers east to the city of Lipscomb. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Exit 113 comprises the first of four exits for the city of Bessemer (pop. 27,456 - 2010 census). The industrial city encompasses a total land area of 40.8 square miles including portions of the Interstate 459 corridor and Rock Mountain to the west. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Exit 113 leaves the southbound freeway for 18th Street adjacent to Woodward Country Club. 18th Street stems west from parallel Jaybird Road to the Bessemer street grid. Jaybird Road leads back north from 12th Avenue into Brighton. Photo taken 06/12/08.
The next exit along the southbound freeway is the split-diamond interchange (Exit 112) with 19th and 18th Streets in one mile. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Southbound drivers span a Birmingham Southern Railroad and Valley Creek in quick succession into central Bessemer. Photo taken 06/12/08.
19th and 18th Streets constitute a one-way street couplet from downtown Bessemer to 18th Avenue North near Exit 112. 19th Street North continues from the adjacent intersection to Hueytown. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Interstate 459 appears for the first time along I-20 west / I-59 south at 5.5 miles out. Alabama Adventure Parkway and Academy Drive round out the Bessemer interchanges over the next three miles. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Reassurance shield assembly posted at the 11th Street North under crossing. The freeway spans Halls Creek and a CSX Railroad line ahead. Photo taken 06/12/08.
A second mileage sign along the stretch between Exits 113 and 110 appears 2.5 miles from Academy Drive (U.S. 11 & SR 5 north) and five miles from Interstate 459. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Alabama Adventure Parkway (formerly Visionland Parkway) winds west from U.S. 11 & SR 5 (9th Avenue Southwest) to Exit 110 and Alabama Splash Adventure aquatic theme park. Photo taken 06/12/08.
A diamond interchange facilitates the movements between I-20/59 and Alabama Adventure Parkway at Exit 110. The east-west roadway ends at Powder Plant Road near McAdory.
Exit 110 opened with partial access by December 2003 and fully on June 11, 2004.6 Photo taken 06/12/08.
U.S. 11 & SR 5 turn away from 9th Avenue SW onto Academy Drive to make the connection with I-20/59 at Exit 108 in one mile. Photo taken 06/12/08.
I-20/59 pass east of Alabama Splash Adventure and west of the commercialized U.S. 11 by this set of reassurance shields. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Construction of I-20/59 southwest from Exit 108 directly replaced U.S. 11 (Bessemer Super Highway) to Tuscaloosa County. This results in a 11.26-mile overlap between the freeway and U.S. 11 & SR 5. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Entering the commercialized diamond interchange (Exit 108) with U.S. 11 & SR 5 (Academy Drive) north. Academy Drive travels between Powder Mill Road to the west and 4th Avenue SW (County Road 20) to the east. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Interstate 20 West Interstate 59 South U.S. 11 Alabama Route 5 South
U.S. 11 & SR 5 shields accompany Interstates 20 and 59 on this assembly posted alongside a growing commercial swath west of Academy Drive. Photo taken 06/12/08.
The two-mile guide sign for Interstate 459 north precedes the trumpet interchange at Exit 106. Photo taken 06/12/08.
One mile north of the loop ramp (Exit 106) onto Interstate 459 for south Bessemer, Hoover and Vestavia Hills. I-459 constitutes a 33.34-mile bypass of Birmingham between the Red Ridge area of Bessemer to Trussville. Photo taken 06/12/08.
The Interstate 459 control city of Montgomery relates to the connection with Interstate 65 south to Shelby County at Exit 15. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Interstate 459 met Interstates 20 and 59 previously before their merge in Birmingham. The freeway opened in stages between 1978 and 1984. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Exit 106 loops onto Interstate 459 east ahead of Flint Hill and McCalla in unincorporated Jefferson County. The proposed Birmingham North Beltline (Interstate 422) is proposed to tie into this interchange from Rock Mountain and Hueytown to the north. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Drivers merging onto I-20/59 west from Interstate 459 add a third overall lane to Tuscaloosa County. The freeway was expanded along this stretch in 2003. Photo taken 06/12/08.
McAshan Drive meets the freeway at a diamond interchange (Exit 104) in one mile. Photo taken 06/12/08.
McAshan Drive connects I-20/59 at Exit 104 with parallel Rock Mountain Lake Road and Lakeside Drive to Rock Mountain Lakes to the west. Photo taken 06/12/08.
With added traffic from the Birmingham south belt line, I-20/59 push southwest between Red Ridge and McAshan Mountain. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Exit 104 leaves I-20 west / I-59 south for McAshan Drive. McAshan Drive east continues to parallel Old Tuscaloosa Highway (old U.S. 11) near McCalla. An extension of the road includes an overpass across a NS Railroad to Eastern Valley Road. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Passing by Griffin Lakes, southbound travelers see this shield assembly for I-20 west / I-59 south and U.S. 11 & SR 5 south. Photo taken 06/12/08.
The community of Bucksville in eastern Tuscaloosa County is the next destination along I-20 west / I-59 southbound in four miles. Tuscaloosa is now just a half hour drive away. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Exit 100, in one mile, consists of a diamond interchange with SR 216 (not signed on I-20/59 guide signs) west and Bucksville Road east. Photo taken 06/12/08.
SR 216 begins at Exit 100 and travels 26.16 miles west to Lake View, Abernant, Brookwood, Peterson and SR 215 (University Boulevard) at Veterans Memorial Parkway in east Tuscaloosa. Photo taken 06/12/08.
Interstates 20-59 & U.S. 11 and SR 5 cross into Tuscaloosa County by Rockview Lake and Bucksville. Photo taken 06/12/08.

  1. Interstate 65 control city information courtesy Kyle H Davis and Chris Patriarca.
  2. Cozart, Justin. Email "IH 65" October 15, 2003.
  3. "the former Lloyd Noland Parkway," blog entry. Alabama Curiosities, February 10, 2006.
  4. Lloyd Noland Parkway @ Bham Wiki.
  5. Allison-Bonnett Memorial Drive @ Bham Wiki.
  6. "VisionLand exit opens on I-20." Birmingham Business Journal, June 10, 2004.

Photo Credits:

02/11/01, 09/27/03, 06/12/08, 10/20/12, 04/14/13 by AARoads

Connect with:
Interstate 65
Interstate 459

Page Updated 02-18-2016.