GARDENDALE – After years of planning, actual construction on the Northern Beltline is expected to begin in 2014, Governor Robert Bentley said on Tuesday. The Governor’s announcement came after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday approved a permit for construction of the first phase of the Beltline. Also Tuesday, Governor Bentley announced a new website (www.betterbeltline.org) will be going live to provide updates on the Northern Beltline and to receive feedback from the public.
The Northern Beltline will be a 52-mile highway that will stretch from Interstate 59 in northeast Jefferson County to the junction of I-459 and I-20/59 in southwest Jefferson County. The first phase of the project is a 1.34 mile portion between State Highway 75 and State Highway 79 in northeast Jefferson County. Once construction begins, completion of the first portion of the Beltline is expected to take five to six years.
“The Northern Beltline will support economic development and additional job creation in Jefferson County,” Governor Bentley said. “It will link all the Interstates in the county, and it will increase accessibility to several communities. New industries look for modern infrastructure and convenient access when considering locations to build and create jobs. The Northern Beltline will spur economic growth and benefit drivers and residents throughout Jefferson County.”
To date, 41 governing bodies have adopted resolutions of support for the Northern Beltline. A 2010 study by the University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research estimated that construction-related activity would directly or indirectly support nearly 70,000 jobs, with nearly 21,000 “post-build” jobs supported by the highway after its completion in the coming decades.
The Northern Beltline is funded 100% by federal funds. No state matching funds will be required for the project. Governor Bentley thanked Alabama’s Congressional delegation for its work to make the Northern Beltline a top priority.
“I appreciate the hard work of Alabama’s Congressional delegation to make sure that this project can move forward and benefit communities throughout Jefferson County and beyond,” Governor Bentley said.
Feedback from the community is important during construction of the Northern Beltline. A volunteer group of private citizens will be formed to meet periodically with the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) for updates on construction of the Northern Beltline. The citizens group will relay updates to members of the community and offer suggestions directly to ALDOT. The Community Outreach Group will help ensure strong communications between ALDOT and people who live in the areas impacted by the Beltline. The www.BetterBeltline.org website announced by Governor Bentley on Tuesday will also provide a method for people to report personal observations regarding the Beltline project, in addition to serving as a source of information related to the highway.
“Our goal is to not only design, build and maintain the best highway in the state, but also to make sure people are informed during every step of the construction process,” added Governor Bentley.