Interstate 20 or I-20, is a major thoroughfare traversing the southern United States serving as a connector between Pecos, Texas, and Florence, South Carolina, paralleling and utilizing old sections of U.S. Highway 80 from its western terminus to Meridian, Mississippi, and U.S. Highway 78 from Birmingham to Florence. During its 1,539.48 mile journey, it also serves the cities of Fort Worth, Dallas, Shreveport, Jackson, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Atlanta, Augusta, and Columbia. For a 145-mile stretch between Meridian and Birmingham, it also shares the same right-of-way with I-59.
Through Birmingham, I-20 serves as the main thoroughfare for traffic traveling from the southwest or east. It physically passes through the communities of McCalla, Bessemer, Brighton, Hueytown, Fairfield, Birmingham, Irondale, Leeds, Moody and Pell City in both Jefferson County and St. Clair County.
A proposal to lower the interstate in downtown Birmingham was included in the city's 2004 City Center Master Plan. The Alabama Department of Transportation determined that the projected cost was too high and scheduled replacement of the existing elevated roadway.
To relieve congestion along the eastbound lanes in St. Clair County, an expansion project between Leeds and Riverside will result in the addition of an additional lane in each direction between Exit 140 and the Coosa River. The first phase, which commenced in 2002, was complete in 2004 that included the reconfiguration of Exit 144 in Leeds and additional lanes between Exits 140 and 147. The second phase between the Coosa River and Exit 152 in Cook Springs is slated for completion in late 2006.
Through Birmingham, Atlanta, located 142 miles to the east, is primarily used as the control city for eastbound lanes; however, between Exits 120 & 123 Downtown is used instead. Tuscaloosa, located 59 miles to the southwest, is used for all westbound lanes in Birmingham.
Birmingham is first used as a control city at Exit 71 in Tuscaloosa for eastbound lanes. For westbound lanes, Birmingham first appears at Exit 57 in Atlanta, Georgia.
|Exit Number||Route Served||Municipality||Direction||Number of Lanes||Miles to the Next Exit Moving Northbound|
|104||Rock Mount Lakes Road||McCalla||E & W||3||1.76|
|106||I-459 North||Bessemer||E & W||3||2.76|
|108||Academy Drive/Highway 11/Alabama 11||Bessemer||E & W||2||0.78|
|110||Visionland Parkway||Bessemer||E & W||2||2.65|
|112||18th Street/19th Street||Bessemer||E & W||2||1.51|
|113||18th Avenue||Brighton||E & W||2||2.22|
|113||Jaybird Road (Allison-Bonnett Memorial Drive Westbound)||Hueytown||E||2||2.4|
|118||Valley Road||Fairfield||E & W||2||1.03|
|119||R.M. Scrushy Parkway (Avenue I Westbound)||Fairfield||E||3||1.69|
|120||Ensley Boulevard/Alabama 269||Birmingham||E & W||4||2.23|
|123||Arkadelphia Road/U.S. Highway 78||Birmingham||E & W||4||1.37|
|124||I-65||Birmingham||E & W||4||0.69|
|125A||16th Street North||Birmingham||E||4||0.46|
|125B||22nd Street North||Birmingham||E & W||3||0.39|
|126A||Caraway Boulevard/Highway 31/Highway 280||Birmingham||E & W||3||0.54|
|126B||31st Street North||Birmingham||E & W||4||1.48|
|128||Tallapoosa Street/Alabama 79||Birmingham||E & W||4||1.33|
|129||Airport Boulevard||Birmingham||E & W||3||0.71|
|130A||I-20 East||Birmingham||E & W||4||1.51|
|130B||1st Avenue North/Highway 11||Birmingham||E||2||1.69|
|132B||Montevallo Road||Birmingham||E & W||3||1.07|
|133||Kilgore Memorial Drive||Irondale||E & W||3||2.42|
|135||Jefferson County 64||Irondale||E & W||3||0.99|
|136||I-459||Irondale||E & W||3||3.08|
|140||U.S. Highway 78||Leeds||E & W||3||2.75|
|144||Highway 411||Leeds||E & W||3||4.44|
Of note between Exits 121 & 123 is an abandoned stretch of mainline interstate along the southbound lanes. These lanes were utilized between 1972 and 1977 as temporary lanes whilst the mainlines were being repaired. The repairs were necessary as a result of sinkholes forming near the shoulder. The repairs resulted in the construction of at-grade bridges over the gaps.
In being a major thoroughfare for both local and interstate travel, accidents are nearly a daily occurrence. Although there are too many to list, there have been several notable accidents in recent years. In both 2002 and 2004 incidents at Malfunction Junction resulted in partial closure of some travel lanes while they were reconstructed. Additionally, the elevated section between Exits 124 & 126 have been the location of multiple incidents of large steel coils falling from tractor trailers and punching holes in the mainlines. (See List of interstate accidents involving dropped steel loads.)
- AARoads, Interstate 20 Highway Guide. .
- State of Alabama Official 2005-2006 Highway Map
- USGS Case History No. 9.11. 14 Jul 2006 .