Interstate 359

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Interstate 359 is a 2.30-mile long spur from Interstates 20 & 59 into Downtown Tuscaloosa near the University of Alabama campus. U.S. 11 and Alabama 69 run concurrently with I-359, connecting with the freeway from both end points. A high level bridge (U.S. 43 / Alabama 69) spanning the Black Warrior River extends north from I-359 to Northport.

Estimated to cost $60.2 million, planned upgrades along SR 69 south of I-359 include constructing an interchange in place of the intersection with U.S. 11 (Skyland Boulevard) and adding separate ramps for I-20/59. An impasse between the Tuscaloosa County Road Improvement Commission and the Alabama Department of Transportation regarding funding placed the project on hold in November 2018.1

Interstate 359 fully opened to traffic on September 13, 1983 upon completion of the viaduct from the Norfolk Southern Railroad north of 31st Street to 12th Street near Downtown Tuscaloosa. The highway cost $41 million to construct.2

Interstate 359 North U.S. 11 South Alabama Route 69 North
U.S. 11 south turns north from Skyland Boulevard and combines with Alabama 69 at the freeway beginning of Interstate 359. The directional cloverleaf interchange with I-20/59 follows. Photo taken 10/21/12.
The unnumbered ramp for I-20 east & I-59 north to Birmingham departs Interstate 359 north. I-20/59 run across the south side of Tuscaloosa to Vance and turn northeast to Bessemer and the greater Birmingham area. Photo taken 10/21/12.
A loop ramp follows onto Interstates 20 west & 59 south for an exit of Tuscaloosa. The pair venture southwest from the Tuscaloosa Western Bypass to Eutaw and Livingston through rural Greene and Sumter Counties. Once beyond Meridian, Mississippi, the routes split for respective paths to Jackson and Laurel. Photo taken 10/21/12.
The succeeding exit along the 2.79 mile long freeway is the folded diamond interchange with 35th Street. Exit 1 joins Interstate 359 with an industrial area along 35th Street, east of parallel Kauloosa Avenue. Photo taken 10/21/12.
The first confirming shield for Interstate 359 north stands ahead of Cribbs Mill Creek. Photo taken 11/28/09.
Running along side I-359 north to the Tuscaloosa business district, 35th Street provides a connection to parallel Greensboro Avenue (Alabama 215). Greensboro Avenue was the original alignment for U.S. 11, U.S. 82 and Alabama 69 before the completion of both I-359 and McFarland Boulevard. Photo taken 10/21/12.
I-359 north, U.S. 11 south & SR 69 north reach the loop ramp (Exit 1) to 35th Street. 35th Street comprises a multi-lane arterial west from SR 215 (Greensboro Avenue) at 10th Avenue to Kauloosa Avenue west of I-359. The street continues west to County Road 44 and Shelton State Community College. Photo taken 10/21/12.
Next in line for northbound motorists is the diamond interchange (Exit 2) with 15th Street (U.S. 11 & U.S. 43 south) for Stillman College. Photo taken 10/21/12.
Interstate 359, U.S. 11 and Alabama 69 travel a viaduct over a Norfolk Southern Railroad line and the Tuscaloosa street grid from 21st to 17th Streets. Photo taken 10/21/12.
Exit 2 departs from the north end of Interstate 359 to 15th Street. U.S. 11 south departs I-359 and SR 69 for an overlap with U.S. 43 to Fosters, Knoxville and Eutaw. U.S. 43 north joins SR 69 northbound toward Downtown and the city of Northport. Photo taken 10/21/12.
Northbound Interstate 359 transitions onto a surface street (Lurleen B. Wallace Boulevard North) beyond the freeway viaduct over 15th Street. This end is very similar to Interstates 175 and 375 in St. Petersburg, Florida, with ramps connecting onto a one way street couplet. U.S. 43 & SR 69 merge onto Lurleen B. Wallace Boulevard from the right and continue to University Boulevard (to SR 215) and the Black Warrior River bridge. Photo taken 10/21/12.
Interstate 359 South U.S. 11 North Alabama Route 69 South
U.S. 43 south leaves Lurleen B. Wallace Boulevard South for 15th Street west to Stillman College at the beginning of Interstate 359. The highway combines with U.S. 11 south from Tuscaloosa 35 miles west to the Greene County seat of Eutaw. Photo taken 10/21/12.
I-359 commences along a lengthy viaduct south from 15th Street to a Norfolk Southern Railroad line. Exit 2 connects the freeway with 35th Street in one mile. Photo taken 10/21/12.
A folded diamond interchange connects I-395, U.S. 11 & Alabama 69 with 35th Street in one half mile. The ramps to I-20/59 follow in 1.25 miles for Birmingham and Meridian, Mississippi. Photo taken 10/21/12.
Kauloosa Avenue travels south from 31st Street through the industrial area by 35th Street to Alabama 69 south of I-20/59. Photo taken 10/21/12.
31st Street spans Interstate 359 southbound at the ramp departure (Exit 1) for 35th Street. 35th Street heads west to County Road 44 and Shelton State Community College and east to become 10th Avenue north at Alabama 215 (Greensboro Avenue). This overhead assembly was not present in 2012. Photo taken 11/28/09.
Passing under 35th Street with four lanes, Interstate 359 southbound prepares to split with three lanes continuing to U.S. 11 north & SR 69 south to Skyland Boulevard and two lanes joining I-20/59. Photo taken 10/21/12.
An end sign precedes the unnumbered off-ramp to Interstates 20-59. I-20/59 northbound travel 49 miles to the city of Birmingham. Meridian, Mississippi lies 85 miles to the southwest. Photo taken 10/21/12.
Three lanes of Interstate 359 south, U.S. 11 north & SR 69 south quickly reduce to two beyond the gore point sign for Interstates 20-59. Photo taken 10/21/12.
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A two lane flyover winds eastward onto I-20/59 through south Tuscaloosa and Cottondale. Traffic heading west leaves the urban area over wetlands ahead of the Black Warrior River. Photos taken 10/21/12.
U.S. 11 north and Alabama 69 split at the freeway end of Interstate 359. A $60.3 million project estimated to start in Summer 2019 will replace this congested intersection with a grade separated interchange. Photo taken 10/21/12.
U.S. 11 joins Skyland Boulevard, a busy commercial arterial east through southern reaches of Tuscaloosa, while SR 69 extends south through growing suburban areas to Moundville and Greensboro in Hale County. Photo taken 10/21/12.
Interstate 359 scenes
Mill Creek Avenue leads north from 39th Street to 35th Street opposite the southbound loop ramp to Interstate 359 at Exit 1. Photo taken 09/28/03.

Sources:
  1. "No funding agreement reached between ALDOT, road commission." Tuscaloosa News (AL), November 27, 2018.
  2. "Interstate link speeding traffic flow." The Tuscaloosa News (AL), October 27, 1983.


Photo Credits:

09/28/03, 11/28/09, 10/21/12 by AARoads

Connect with:
Interstate 59
U.S. 11

Page Updated 01-08-2019.