Interstate 65

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Interstate 65 (abbreviated I-65) is a controlled-access, interstate highway traversing the eastern United States serving as a connector between Mobile, Alabama and Gary, Indiana, paralleling the older U.S. Highway 31 from Mobile to Indianapolis. Its 887.3 mile (1,401 km) route also takes this major thoroughfare through Birmingham, Alabama; Nashville, Tennesee; Louisville, Kentucky; and Indianapolis, Indiana.

The interstate is the primary north-south route through the state of Alabama, linking the state's four largest cities: Mobile, Montgomery, Birmingham, and Huntsville (via the I-565 spur). In the Birmingham metro area, I-65 serves as the main thoroughfare for traffic traveling north and south. It passes through the communities of Calera, Alabaster, Pelham, Hoover, Homewood, Birmingham, Fultondale, and Gardendale in both Shelby and Jefferson Counties.

Control cities

Through Birmingham, Huntsville, located 98 miles to the north, is used as the control city for northbound lanes. However, Nashville, Tennessee, was used as the northbound control city through the early 1990s when the switch to Huntsville was made. The switch came after Huntsville was connected to the interstate system by I-565. Montgomery, located 92 miles to the south, is used for southbound lanes.

Birmingham is first used as a control city at Exit 340 in Decatur for southbound travelers. However, through the early 1990s, it was first utilized as a control city in Nashville. For northbound travelers, Birmingham first appears at Exit 171 in Montgomery.

Major intersections

In Hoover, I-65 intersects I-459 at Exit 250 in a large stack interchange. This stack interchange held the record for the costliest interchange ever constructed within the state of Alabama until the I-65/I-22 interchange was completed in Birmingham during the early 2010s.

The Lakeshore Parkway I-65 interchange in Homewood, Exit 255, was replaced in 20212022 with the state's second "diverging diamond" interchange design.

In downtown Birmingham, I-65 intersects I-20/59 at Exit 261 in a large intersection known locally as Malfunction Junction.


The first sections of what became I-65 were a stretch between Kimberly and Cullman which opened in 1959 and the 25-mile stretch between a point four miles south of Clanton and a point about two miles north of Calera which was opened on November 26, 1960, just in time for traffic coming to Birmingham for the 1960 Iron Bowl.

Much of Alabama's interstate highway system was designed by R. E. Norton, working as "location engineer" for the Alabama Highway Department. Norton was an advocate of designing highways to make the best use of the natural landscape. He routinely planned "bifurcated" routes with the opposing roadways widely separated, often at different elevations. He also tried to locate bends in the road at the crests of hills to give motorists the best views of the road ahead.

The final section of I-65, between exits 266 (Fultondale) and 280 (Kimberly/Warrior), was opened in 1985. The entire section has a minimum of three lanes in each direction. After this section opened, additional lanes were constructed for the existing section south of exit 266. Upon completion of that project, in the late 1990s or early 2000s, several miles of I-65 north of exit 280 were expanded from two lanes in each direction to three.

On July 2, 2002 all of I-65 in Alabama was dedicated as the nation's first "Heroes Highway" in honor of Mike Spann, the first American killed in combat during the US invasion of Afghanistan on November 25, 2001.

In October 2008, Interstate 65 became the nation's first "biofuels corridor" with E85 ethanol and B20 biodiesel fuels available along its full length. The project was funded with U.S. Department of Energy grant of $1.3 million. Stations in the Birmingham area included Dogwood Shell at 1488 Montgomery Highway in Vestavia Hills and County Line Shell at 313 Cane Creek Road in Warrior.

Interstate 22 from Memphis, Tennessee connects with I-65 at the new exit 265. Construction on this interchange began on August 1, 2010 and was completed in October 2016. Preliminary roadwork to widen I-65 between 16th Street North and 41st Avenue North has been ongoing since 2007[1]. Just a few miles north of I-22 will be a new interchange (exit 274) connecting to the Northern Beltline (future Interstate 422), providing a bypass to I-59 northeast of Birmingham and I-20/59 to the southwest of the city and completing the loop started with I-459 around the south and east.

Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth has made public calls for the widening of I-65 to at least six lanes throughout Alabama. His office created a website, "" in 2023, touting the passage of a Senate Joint Resolution sponsored by Garlan Gudger (R-District 4) during the 2023 Alabama legislative session.

In Shelby County, work is underway to expand I-65 from four to eight lanes between Alabama Highway 119 (exit 246) and Shelby County 52 (exit 242). When that project is completed, the next widening project will work from 52 to U.S. Highway 31 (1st Street Alabaster, exit 238). A third project will then widen the interstate from there to the Shelby County Airport (exit 234). No dates have been given for the future projects[2].

In 2023 crews attempted to smooth out the joints in the 40-year-old concrete paving on the stretch of I-65 between Montgomery Highway (Hoover) and University Boulevard, and then topped the highway with a layer of asphalt. Complete replacement of the road surface is contemplated as a future project.

In September 2023 Governor Kay Ivey announced the state's approval of a 3-phase project to widen I-65 to six lanes between Exit 231 in Calera and Exit 238 in Alabaster. The project includes a total of 8 bridges to span railroad tracks and Shelby County Road 26. It was announced as part of a $500 million package of funded excise taxes on gasoline through the Rebuild Alabama<!Act of Alabama 2019-2--> gasoline tax. $20 million in local matching funds were approved by the Shelby County Commission, the cities of Alabaster and Calera, and by 58 Inc., an affiliate of the Shelby County Economic Development Corporation.

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 bridges were reconstructed.


  1. MacDonald-2006
  2. Wagner-2010