Interstate 20 in Alabama

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Interstate 20 marker

Interstate 20
Route information
Maintained by ALDOT
Length: 214.7 mi (345.5 km)
Major junctions
West end: I-20 / I-59 at the Mississippi border near Cuba
 
East end: I‑20 at the Georgia line
Location
Counties: Sumter, Green, Tuscaloosa, Jefferson, St. Clair, Talladega, Calhoun, Cleburne
Highway system
  • Alabama Highways
SR 19 SR 20

In Alabama, Interstate 20 (I-20) travels 214.7 miles (345.5 km)[1] through the center of the state. It enters the state from Mississippi near Cuba, and travels northeastward through Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. At Birmingham, I-20 turns eastward and heads through Oxford before crossing the Georgia state line near Lebanon. Other cities on the route include Livingston, Bessemer, and Pell City.

For approximately 130-mile (210 km), more than half its distance, I-20 is concurrent with I-59 from the Mississippi state line to eastern Birmingham near Birmingham–Shuttlesworth International Airport. Mileage and exits on the concurrency are I-59's,[citation needed] although both highways have the same mileage for the Alabama concurrency.

Route description[edit]

Western Alabama[edit]

After I-20/I-59 enters Alabama from Mississippi, they travel concurrently northeastward across the Tombigbee River and Black Warrior River delta country which is generally low-lying farmland until reaching Tuscaloosa. This area contains low population. U.S. Route 11 (US 11) parallels this route from Mississippi northeastward while it passes through small towns like York, Livingston, and Eutaw before reaching Tuscaloosa.

At Tuscaloosa, the highway connects with the spur interstate I-359 which travels northward into downtown Tuscaloosa and to the University of Alabama.

From the Mississippi–Alabama state line to Tuscaloosa, I-20/I-59 is a four-lane route. While passing Tuscaloosa, the route briefly becomes six lanes but once again becomes four lanes east of exit 73.

From Tuscaloosa to Birmingham, the highway continues on an east/northeast heading traveling through rolling forested terrain until reaching I-459 southwest of Bessemer. Most of this stretch is now a six-lane freeway and construction continues to widen the highway just northeast of Tuscaloosa to six-lane capacity. This stretch also hosts the Mercedes auto plant which is a large employer of residents primarily from Jefferson, Tuscaloosa, and Bibb counties. I-459 travels east and then northeast around the southern periphery of the Birmingham area before re-connecting first with I-20 near Irondale and then terminating at I-59 near Trussville. I-422 (Birmingham Northern Beltline), is slated to connect to I-20/I-59 at the I-459 interchange; however, this project is still years away from completion.

I-20 (concurrent with I-59) approaching I-65 in downtown Birmingham. This is sometimes referred to locally as Malfunction Junction.

Birmingham[edit]

After passing the I-459 interchange, the highway continues northeast through the Birmingham suburbs of Bessemer, Fairfield, and Hueytown, and entering Birmingham near the Ensley community. The highway continues east/northeast through downtown before reaching the Birmingham–Shuttlesworth International Airport where I-59 continues northeast toward Gadsden and I-20 turns eastward toward Atlanta. Most of this stretch is through urban areas including passing near the U.S. Steel U.S. Steel plant near Fairfield. Near Fairfield and visible from the Interstate looking north and northwest are several smokestacks which is all that remain of several large steelmills that used to dominate the Ensley community of Birmingham.

As I-20/I-59 travels eastward just past the Arkadelphia Road exit in the East Thomas community, the highway rises to the top of East Thomas hill, giving eastbound travelers an excellent view of the downtown Birmingham skyline just before reaching the interchange with I-65. This interchange is known locally as "Malfunction Junction" due to the fact that the eastbound and westbound lanes briefly cross each other and the highway has exit ramps for I-65 on both sides of the road which can cause confusion and accidents.

As I-20/I-59 leaves the downtown area, the highway has an interchange with the Elton B. Stephens Expressway, also known locally as the Red Mountain Expressway, which travels south across the downtown area and into the southern Birmingham suburbs.

Once I-20 turns away from I-59, it begins an eastbound journey toward Georgia. The first 2 miles (3.2 km) are a four-lane bridge of east Birmingham neighborhoods before reaching the shopping areas formerly known as Eastwood Mall and Century Plaza. Eastwood Mall at its opening was the largest shopping mall in the Southeastern United States while Century Plaza Mall was the first two-level shopping mall in Birmingham. Eastwood Mall was razed in 2006 and in its places exists a Walmart Supercenter and other retailers. Century Plaza closed in June 2009 and the future of the site is still in question.

I-20 is a six-lane freeway from exit 132 to exit 162. This highway travels through rolling suburban country and crosses I-459 near Irondale.

As of 2017, preparation is underway to temporarily close I-20/I-59 east of I-65 in order to rebuild the overpass between 17th Street and US 31/US 280. The current bridge was completed when this segment of the highway opened in 1973. It is expected that this segment of the highway will close in the fall of 2018. Demolition of the existing bridge and erecting the new bridge is expected to take up to 14 months, meaning that it should reopen in late 2019.

"Bloody 20"[edit]

The section of I-20 between Leeds and Pell City is arguably the most dangerous stretch of interstate highway in Alabama. The terrain is significantly hilly as the route passing across the northeast to southwest ridges of the Appalachian Mountains. There are two significant uphill grades in each direction which slows down truck traffic. However, due to the heavy volume of truck traffic combined with speeding car traffic, accidents are frequent and sometimes deadly. This part of I-20 is sometimes called "Bloody 20". Between 2010 and 2014 work was completed to add additional lanes in each direction along I-20.

Eastern Alabama[edit]

East of mile marker 155, the highway once again becomes six lanes until reaching the Coosa River bridge near Riverside. This bridge was scheduled to be replaced when the stretch between the Coosa River and mile marker 172 is widened to six lanes from four lanes. However, no timetable for this project has been announced. Exits 165 and 168 serve the Honda Motor Company which has a plant at Lincoln. Exits 168 and 173 serve the Talladega Superspeedway which hosts two NASCAR racing weeks each year. The terrain east of mile marker 155 until reaching mile marker 191 is the relatively flat Coosa River valley.

East of mile marker 172 until mile marker 188, the route is once again six lanes. From exit 188 to exit 205, I 20 is once again 4 lanes. East of exit 205, I-20 becomes a six-lane route until it reaches exit 210. However, in this area, construction is ongoing to widen the last five miles to six lanes to the Georgia state line. The Anniston–Oxford metropolitan area is served by exits 179, 185, 188, and 191.

Just east of exit 191 is a significant uphill/downhill grade (uphill eastbound/downhill westbound) approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) long. Truck traffic is significantly slowed by this hill, causing occasional traffic backups. East of this incline, the route travels through generally rural forested rolling country until reaching the Georgia state line.

East of Birmingham, US 78 serves as the parallel U.S. highway.

History[edit]

The completion of I-20 in Alabama was done in numerous stages. Few segments were completed in such a way that they had interchanges with existing segments. The first section to be opened was a 21-mile-long (34 km) segment between Leeds and Riverside in the early 1960s. The next section to open was a 28-mile-long (45 km) segment between the Tuscaloosa and the Tuscaloosa–Jefferson county line in the mid-1960s.

The next section of I-20 to open in Alabama was a 4-mile-long (6.4 km) stretch between Avenue I in Ensley and Arkadelphia Road (US 78/SR 5) near Birmingham–Southern College. This was the first segment of Interstate highway to open in Birmingham. This segment, as well as a 1-mile-long (1.6 km) segment from the Mississippi state line to what is now exit 1, leading to Cuba opened in the late 1960s.

The early 1970s saw more sections of I-20 completed in Alabama, including a 50-mile-long (80 km) segment between Epes and Tuscaloosa, a 3-mile-long (4.8 km) segment between Fairfield and Ensley, a 2-mile-long (3.2 km) segment between US 78 and I-65, a 6-mile-long (9.7 km) segment between US 78 in Riverside and SR 77 in Lincoln, then an additional 13 miles (21 km) leading to SR 21 at Oxford.

During the mid 1970s, I-20 was extended further east in Birmingham. The first segment to open east of I-65 was a short segment leading to 17th Street in downtown, then another segment that extended the route to 22nd Street near the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center. The opening of additional segments continuing eastward led to temporary ends of I-20 at SR 79 (Tallapoosa Street) near Birmingham–Shuttlesworth International Airport, then at US 78 in Irondale. Also, the segment of the highway between Bessemer and Fairfield was completed. In the eastern part of the state, I-20 was extended east from Oxford to SR 9 near Heflin.

During the late 1970s, I-20 was completed in east Alabama; however, only 6 miles (9.7 km) of the highway was opened since it was not complete in Georgia. The segment between the Georgia state line and Douglasville was among the final segments of Interstate highway to be completed in Georgia. The temporary end of I-20 in Alabama was at SR 46. Also, the final section of I-20 connecting Tuscaloosa and Birmingham was completed, as the section of US 11 between the Tuscaloosa–Jefferson county line and Bessemer was upgraded from an expressway to a limited-access highway.

In the early 1980s segments connecting Cuba and Livingston and then Livingston and Epes completed I-20 between the Mississippi state line and Birmingham. The final segment of the route to be completed was an 8-mile-long (13 km) section between Irondale and Leeds. This segment opened in 1985.

I-20 has no three-digit spur routes in Alabama, although at one time there was discussion of a spur northward from Oxford into Anniston which would also serve as a connection to the U.S. Army base at Fort McClellan as well as to Gadsden. The closing of the base as well as a lack of population between Anniston and Gadsden eliminated the necessity of such a route.

Exit list[edit]

{{ALint|exit

County Location mi km Exit Destinations Notes
Sumter 0.000 0.000 I-20 west / I-59 south – Meridian Continuation into Mississippi
0.804 1.294 1 To US 80 east (SR 8 east) – Cuba, Demopolis
8.041 12.941 8 SR 17 – York
17.059 27.454 17 SR 28 – Livingston, Boyd
23.141 37.242 23 CR 20 to SR 39 – Gainesville, Epes
Greene 32.229 51.868 32 CR 20 – Boligee
40.766 65.607 40 SR 14 – Aliceville, Eutaw
45.334 72.958 45 CR 208 – Union
52.244 84.079 52 US 11 (SR 7) / US 43 (SR 13) – Knoxville
Tuscaloosa 62.466 100.529 62 SR 300 / CR 10 – Fosters SR 300 is unsigned
Tuscaloosa 68.033 109.489 68 Northport Tuscaloosa Western Bypass
71.367 114.854 71 I‑359 north / US 11 (SR 7) / SR 69 – Tuscaloosa, Moundville Signed as exits 71A (south) & 71B (north), southern terminus of I-359, exit 0 on I-359; parclo interchange.
73.003 117.487 73 US 82 (SR 6 / McFarland Boulevard)
75.961 122.247 76 US 11 – Cottondale, East Tuscaloosa
77.102 124.084 77 Cottondale
79.895 128.579 79 US 11 (SR 7) – Coaling, Cottondale
86.295 138.878 86 Brookwood, Vance
89.253 143.639 89 Mercedes Drive
97.138 156.328 97 US 11 south (SR 7 south) / SR 5 south – West Blocton, Centreville South end of US 11/SR 7/SR 5 concurrency
100.292 161.404 100 Abernant, Bucksville Unsigned eastern terminus for SR 216
Jefferson 104.159 167.628 104 Rock Mountain Lake McAshan Drive
106.201 170.914 106 I‑459 – Gadsden, Montgomery, Atlanta I-459 exit 0 southbound; trumpet interchange for now.
Bessemer 108.396 174.446 108 US 11 north / SR 5 north (SR 7 north / Academy Drive) North end of US 11/SR 7/SR 5 concurrency
110.021 177.062 110 Splash Adventure Parkway
112.341 180.795 112 18th Street, 19th Street
Brighton 113.280 182.306 113 18th Avenue – Brighton
Midfield 115.520 185.911 115 Allison–Bonnet Memorial Drive, Jaybird Road
Fairfield 118.304 190.392 118 Valley Road – Fairfield
Birmingham 119.025 191.552 119 Lloyd Nolan Parkway Signed as exit 119A southbound
119.727 192.682 119B Avenue I Southbound exit and northbound entrance
120.934 194.624 120 SR 269 (20th Street) / Ensley Avenue Southern terminus of SR 269
121.238 195.114 121 Bush Boulevard Southbound exit and northbound entrance
123.374 198.551 123 US 78 (SR 4 / Arkadelphia Road) / SR 5 – Jasper
124.740 200.750 124 I‑65 – Montgomery, Huntsville Signed as exits 124A (south) and 124B (north); I-65 exits 261A-B
125.221 201.524 125A 17th Street – Downtown Birmingham Northbound exit closed May 31, 2017, through 2018 for reconstruction; southbound entrance
125.639 202.196 125B 22nd Street – Downtown Birmingham Signed as exit 125 southbound
mile=126.239 exit=126A

US 31 (SR 3 / Carraway Boulevard / Elton B. Stephens Expressway) / US 280 east – Civic Center

126.825 204.105 126B 31st Street North
128.257 206.410 128 SR 79 (Tallapoosa Street)
129.621 208.605 129 Airport Boulevard
130.301 209.699 130A I‑59 north – Gadsden Eastern end of I-59 concurrency
130.571 210.134 130B US 11 (SR 7 / 1st Avenue North) / 1st Avenue South Signed as exits 130A (south) and 130B (north) eastbound
132.416 213.103 132A To US 78 / Oporto-Madrid Boulevard Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
132.738 213.621 132B To US 78 / Montevallo Road Signed as exit 132 westbound
Irondale 133 To US 78 / Kilgore Memorial Drive
135 To US 78 / Old Leeds Road
137.027 220.524 136 I‑459 – Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Gadsden I-459 exit 29
Leeds 140.108 225.482 140 US 78 (SR 4 / Parkway Drive) – Leeds
St. Clair 144.546 232.624 144 US 411 (SR 25 / Ashville Road) – Leeds, Moody, Odenville Signed as exits 144A (south) and 144B (north)
Moody 147.300 237.056 147 Moody Kelley Creek Road
152.140 244.846 152 Cook Springs
153.733 247.409 153 US 78 west (SR 4 west) – Chula Vista Western end of US 78/SR 4 concurrency
Pell City 156.564 251.965 156 US 78 east (SR 4 east) – Eden, Pell City, Odenville Eastern end of US 78/SR 4 concurrency
158.817 255.591 158 US 231 (SR 53 / Martin Street) – Ashville, Pell City
Riverside 162.913 262.183 162 US 78 (SR 4) – Riverside, Pell City
Coosa River
(Logan Martin Lake)
164.748 265.136 Bridge over the Coosa River
Talladega Lincoln 165.094 265.693 165 Embry, Lincoln Stemley Road
168.108 270.544 168 SR 77 – Talladega, Lincoln
173.124 278.616 173 CR 5 – Eastaboga, Talladega Superspeedway, International Motorsports Hall of Fame
Oxford 179.729 289.246 179 SR 202 east – Munford, Coldwater Western terminus of SR 202
Calhoun 185.537 298.593 185 SR 21 (Quintard Drive) – Oxford, Anniston, Jacksonville
Anniston 188.034 302.611 188 US 431 north (SR 1 north) to US 78 / Leon Smith Parkway – Oxford, Anniston, Jacksonville Northern end of US 431/SR 1 concurrency
191.859 308.767 191 US 431 south (SR 1 south) / SR 301 north to US 78 Southern end of US 431/SR 1 concurrency; SR 301 is unsigned.
Cleburne Heflin 199.374 320.861 199 SR 9 (Almon Street) – Heflin, Hollis
205.054 330.002 205 SR 46 – Ranburne
Tallapoosa River 209.312 336.855 Bridge over the Tallapoosa River
210.268 338.394 210 CR 49 – Ranburne, Muscadine
214.778 345.652 I‑20 east – Atlanta Continuation into Georgia
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ FHWA Route Log and Finder List U.S. Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration (2002). Accessed May 3, 2007.

External links[edit]

Route map: Google

KML is from Wikidata


Interstate 20
Previous state:
Mississippi
Alabama Next state:
Georgia