By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama and the greater Hoover-Birmingham-Cullman metropolitan area is one of the largest MSAs in the country yet Birmingham lacks a beltway around the city center like most cities in the country of that size have had for decades. That is finally going to change. Gov. Bentley announced on Tuesday that construction on the northern beltline will begin in 2014.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said in a written statement, “The Northern Beltline will support economic development and additional job creation in Jefferson County. 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.”
The Northern Beltline will be a 52-mile highway stretching from Interstate 59 in northeast Jefferson County to the junction of I-459 and I-20/59 in southwest Jefferson County.
Construction of the first phase of the project is a 1.34 mile portion between State Highway 75 and State Highway 79 in northeast Jefferson County. This portion is expected to be completed in five to six years. The Northern Beltline will be built entirely with federal funds. The state will not even have to contribute matching funds thus the project does not divert limited state highway resources away from other projects and priorities.
Governor Bentley thanked Alabama’s Congressional delegation for their work to make the Northern Beltline a reality. “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.
According to Bentley construction of the corridor is expected to enhance cross-region accessibility, create jobs and stimulate economic growth.
Construction of the corridor is expected to create thousands of construction jobs. 41 governing bodies have passed resolutions supporting the Northern Beltline.
The final phase of Corridor X/future Interstate 22 is well under way connecting the roadway which currently ends in Jefferson County near Cardiff to Interstate 65 near Gardendale. Construction workers who have spent decades working on the roadway connecting Birmingham to Memphis will be able to transition to the Northern Beltline.
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. Environemental extremists have delayed the project through appeals. To receive updates on the Northern Beltline you can visit the new website: