Interstate 59

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Interstate 59 (abbreviated I-59) is a major thoroughfare traversing the Deep South serving as a connector between Chattanooga and New Orleans, paralleling U.S. Highway 11 for its entire length. During its 444 mile journey, it also serves the cities of Gadsden, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Meridian, Laurel and Hattiesburg. For a 145 mile stretch between Meridian and the I-59/20 split in eastern Birmingham, it shares the same right-of-way with Interstate 20. That section has historically been referred to as I-20/59 or 20/59, but in 2015 the Alabama Department of Transportation determined that the "official" joint designation should be I-59/20 because I-59 had been completed first.

Through Birmingham, I-59 serves as the main thoroughfare for traffic traveling from the southwest or northeast. It physically passes through the communities of McCalla, Bessemer, Brighton, Hueytown, Fairfield, Birmingham, Trussville, Argo, and Springville in both Jefferson County and St Clair County. It is also the parent route of auxiliary Interstate-459.


The 10-mile stretch from Keenes Mill Road to Union Church near Tuscaloosa was contracted to Blount Brothers Construction in 1965. It opened unofficially to traffic in October of that year.

The I-20/59 downtown viaduct was completed in 1971 and replaced with a taller deck in 2020.

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.

A 5-mile section of the interstate between I-459 and Chalkville Mountain Road was widened from four to six lanes in 2022 with $50 million in funding from the Rebuild Alabama Act of 2019.

In 2019 it was announced that the section of the interstate between I-459 and Chalkville Mountain Road would be widened from four to six lanes in 2022 with $50 million in funding from the Rebuild Alabama Act of 2019. That work was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In February 2023 Governor Kay Ivey referred to the project in her State of the State Address. On August 31 she announced ALDOT's approval of the project with a new budget of $80 million.

Control cities

Through Birmingham, Gadsden, located 61 miles to the northeast, is primarily used as the control city for northbound lanes; however, between Exits 120 & 123 Downtown is instead used. Tuscaloosa, located 59 miles to the southwest, is used for southbound lanes.

Birmingham is first used as a control city at Exit 71 in Tuscaloosa for northbound travelers. For southbound travelers, Birmingham first appears at its northern terminus in Wildwood, Georgia.

Exit listing

Exit Number Route Served Municipality Direction Lanes Each Way Miles to the Next Exit Moving Northbound
104 Rock Mount Lakes Road McCalla N & S 3 1.76
106 I-459 North Bessemer N & S 3 2.76
108 Academy Drive/U.S. Highway 11 Bessemer N & S 2 0.78
110 Visionland Parkway Bessemer N & S 2 2.65
112 18th Street/19th Street Bessemer N & S 2 1.51
113 18th Avenue Brighton N & S 2 2.22
113 Jaybird Road (Allison-Bonnett Memorial Drive Southbound) Hueytown N 2 2.4
118 Valley Road Fairfield N & S 2 1.03
119 Lloyd Noland Parkway (Avenue I Ensley Southbound) Fairfield N 3 1.69
120 Ensley Boulevard/Alabama Highway 269 Birmingham N & S 4 2.23
121 Bush Boulevard Birmingham S 4 NA
123 Arkadelphia Road/U.S. Highway 78 Birmingham N&S 4 1.37
124 I-65 Birmingham N&S 4 0.69
125A 16th Street North Birmingham N 4 0.46
125B 22nd Street North Birmingham N & S 3 0.39
126A Carraway Boulevard/U.S. Highway 31/U.S. Highway 280 Birmingham N & S 3 0.54
126B 31st Street North Birmingham N & S 4 1.48
128 Tallapoosa Street/Alabama Highway 79 Birmingham N & S 4 1.33
129 Airport Boulevard Birmingham N & S 3 0.71
130 (I-59/20 split) I-20 East Birmingham N & S 4 1.51
131 Oporto-Madrid Boulevard Birmingham N 3 0.4
132 1st Avenue North/U.S. Highway 11 Birmingham N & S 3 1.52
133 4th Avenue North Birmingham N 2 0.66
134 Roebuck Parkway/Alabama Highway 75 Birmingham N & S 2 2.81
137 I-459 South Trussville N & S 2 (3) 3.55
141 Trussville/Pinson (Chalkville Mountain Road) Trussville N & S 2 2.9
143 Deerfoot Parkway/Mt. Olive Church Road Trussville N & S 2 3.97
148 U.S. Highway 11 Argo N & S 2 6.29
154 Alabama Highway 174 Springville N & S 2 2.27
156 Alabama Highway 23 Springville N & S 2 10.14
166 U.S. Highway 231 Ashville N & S 2 7.31
174 Steele Steele N & S 2 7.66



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 while 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.

Major accidents

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.)

External links

  • AARoads, Interstate 59 Highway Guide. [1].


  • State of Alabama Official 2005-2006 Highway Map
  • USGS Case History No. 9.11. 14 Jul 2006 [2].
  • Pillion, Dennis (January 9, 2019) "Why did I-20/59 become I-59/20 after 40 years?" The Birmingham News
  • Pillion, Dennis (January 14, 2019) "14-month I-59/20 closure to start January 21." The Birmingham News
  • Coker, Angel (January 14, 2022) "ALDOT to widen portion of I-59 near Trussville." Birmingham Business Journal
  • Lloyd, Gary (February 22, 2022) "I-59 widening coming to Trussville." Cahaba Sun
  • Cason, Mike (August 31, 2023) "I-65 to be widened from Alabaster to Calera: Ivey announces $500 million Birmingham area interstate projects."