Bessemer Super Highway
- This article is about the highway, for the hip hop album, see 2Lue.
The divided four-lane highway, the first in the state, replaced a circuitous route through West End, Powderly and Lipscomb which was slowed by numerous railroad grade crossings. It was designed in the 1930s by Alabama State Highway Department engineers who used the German Autobahn system as a model. The chosen route followed a nearly straight line between the Alabama State Fairgrounds at Five Points West to 19th Street in the heart of downtown Bessemer.
As the project proceeded, many of the rail lines along the route were elevated on steel and concrete trestles to bridge over the highway. The new highway itself was raised onto a long viaduct, later named the Mary Bryant Bridge, as it crossed over rail yards on the way into Bessemer.
Due to the shortage of funds prevailing during the Great Depression, the State set aside plans to build large interchanges that would allow for limited freeway access. Had it been built according to the initial designs, the Bessemer Super Highway would have been distinguished, ahead of the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, as the first freeway in the United States. In 1940 the highway department did install lighting along the entire route, thus creating what was, at the time, the longest "white way" east of the Rocky Mountains.
The Super Highway, as it quickly came to be known, spurred the development of new businesses catering to the driving public in the post-World War II boom. The corridor's economic growth continued nearly unabated until the completion of I-59/20.
In 2010 the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham proposed a revitalization plan for the Super Highway anchored by improved mass transit. The transit corridor would include primary stops at Five Points West, Aaron Aronov Drive/B. Y. Williams Drive, downtown Bessemer, Academy Drive, and Eastern Valley Road. Commercial revitalization would be encouraged at those intersections.
- Five Points West
- Central Park
- Fairview Nursing Home
- 161: Riviera Fitness
- 616: former location of Carnaggio's restaurant
- 639: Family Dollar
- 727: SuperThrift Outlet
- Midway Plaza
- 1195: YMCA Western Area Branch
4400: Holiday Mobile Home Park
- 4201: Terrace Oaks Care and Rehabilitation Center
- 4301: Hiway Host Motel (originally the first Holiday Inn in Alabama and the first location of Michael's steak house)
- Auto Movies #1 (Alabama's first drive-in cinema and the 17th in the US)
- Sound of Birmingham recording studio
- Whitson's Famous Foods
- Wigwam Village
- 4321: Holiday Bowl Fun Center
- 4510 Club Grasshopper
- 4601: Birmingham Fire Station No. 11 (2005)
- 5000: Piggly Wiggly supermarket
- Holley, Joe (n. d.) "Bessemer Super Highway"
- Norris, Toraine (April 27, 2010) "Plans in works to revitalize Bessemer Superhighway area." Birmingham News
- Norris, Toraine (April 27, 2010) "History of Bessemer Superhighway." Birmingham News