Interstate 22 in Jefferson County was officially designated the “Congressman Spencer Bachus Highway” on Wednesday during a ceremony in Birmingham.
As a member of Congress representing Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District from 1993 until his retirement in 2015, Bachus worked as the dean of Alabama’s House delegation to champion the construction of I-22.
Area leaders, Alabama Department of Transportation Director John Cooper, and Bachus took part in Wednesday’s event that featured the unveiling of highway signs that will be located along I-22.
“I-22 is the perfect example of a major project that would probably still be incomplete if we didn’t have Spencer fighting to accelerate funding in Washington,” said Mike Thompson, Vice Chairman of the Coalition for Regional Transportation.
Cooper noted that Bachus was also responsible for adding the Birmingham Northern Beltline to the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS), which helped the project to receive nearly $500 million in federal funding in recent years.
“There’s no doubt Congressman Bachus’s championing I-22 accelerated its completion. He also positioned Alabama to advance the Birmingham Northern Beltline under the same ADHS highway program that funded construction of I-22. I’m happy to join everyone in recognizing Congressman Bachus for his outstanding efforts,” Cooper said.
“When many of us in the room today took the first steps to build what is now I-22, some critics said we wouldn’t see its completion in our lifetime,” Bachus said. “All our efforts, whether in war or peace, are almost always for future generations. I-22 is complete. A complete Northern Beltline is years in the future. But we can celebrate knowing both will benefit future generations.”
Steve Ammons, CEO of the Birmingham Business Alliance, said, “Interstate 22 and the Birmingham Northern Beltline each represent generational opportunities to enable significant economic expansion, reduce costly congestion, and enhance motorist safety. The Birmingham Business Alliance and our members all thank Spencer Bachus for committing his time and effort to these projects during his twenty-two years as our congressman.”
I-22 is a 202-mile-long interstate highway serving as a connection between Birmingham and Memphis, Tennessee. The interstate opened to drivers in 2015 and is one of the most significant road projects in Alabama history.