Interstate 20 in Alabama

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This article is about the section of Interstate 20 in Alabama. For the entire route, see Interstate 20.

Interstate 20 marker

Interstate 20
Route information
Maintained by ALDOT
Length: 213 mi (343 km)
Major junctions
West end: I-20 / I-59 at the Mississippi border near Cuba
  I‑359 / US 11 / SR 69 in Tuscaloosa
US 82 in Tuscaloosa
US 11 (numerous locations from Birmingham westward)
I‑459 near Bessemer and in Irondale
I‑65 in Birmingham
US 31 / US 280 in Birmingham
I‑59 in Birmingham
US 78 (numerous locations from Birmingham eastward)
US 431 in Oxford
East end: I‑20 at the Georgia line
Highway system
  • Alabama State Routes
SR 19 SR 20

In Alabama, Interstate 20 travels 214.7 miles[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 more than half its 130-mile (210 km) distance, I-20 overlaps Interstate 59 from the Mississippi border to eastern Birmingham near Birmingham International Airport. Mileage and exits on the concurrency are I-59's,[citation needed] although both routes have the same mileage for the Alabama duplex.

Route description[edit]

Western Alabama[edit]

After Interstate 20/59 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. US Highway 11 parallels this route from Mississippi northeastward while it passes through small towns like York, Livingston, and Eutaw before reaching Tuscaloosa.

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

From the Mississippi/Alabama state line to Tuscaloosa, Interstate 20/59 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 route continues on an east/northeast heading traveling through rolling forested terrain until reaching Interstate 459 southwest of Bessemer. Most of this stretch is now a six-lane freeway and construction continues to widen the route 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. Interstate 459 travels east and then northeast around the southern periphery of the Birmingham area before re-connecting first with Interstate 20 near Irondale and then terminating at Interstate 59 near Trussville. The Birmingham Northern Beltline Corridor X-1, which is slated to become Interstate 422, is to connect to I-20/59 at the Interstate 459 interchange; however, this project is still years away from completion.

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

Birmingham[edit]

After passing the Interstate 459 interchange, the route continues northeast through the Birmingham suburbs of Bessemer, Fairfield, and Hueytown and entering Birmingham near the Ensley community. The route continues east/northeast through downtown before reaching the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport where Interstate 59 continues northeast toward Gadsden and Interstate 20 turns eastward toward Atlanta. Most of this stretch is through urban areas including passing near the 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 Interstate 20/59 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 Interstate 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 route has exit ramps for Interstate 65 on both sides of the road which can cause confusion and accidents.

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

Once Interstate 20 turns away from Interstate 59, it begins an eastbound journey toward Georgia. The first two miles are a four-lane bridge of east Birmingham neighborhoods before reaching the shopping areas formerly known as Eastwood Mall and Century Plaza Mall. Eastwood Mall at its opening was the largest shopping mall in the Southeast 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 Wal-Mart Supercenter and other retailers. Century Plaza closed in June 2009 and the future of the site is still in question.

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

"Bloody 20"[edit]

The section of Interstate 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 Interstate 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 route once again becomes six lanes until reaching the Coosa River bridge near Riverside. This bridge is 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 205, the route is once again six lanes. East of Exit 205, Interstate 20 remains a four-lane route until it reaches the Georgia state line (mile marker 215); however, in this area, construction is ongoing to widen the road to six lanes to the Georgia state line. The Anniston/Oxford 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 two miles 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, U.S. Route 78 serves as the parallel U.S. highway.

History[edit]

The completion of Interstate 20 in Alabama was done in numerous stages. Few segments were completed in such a way that they junctioned existing segments. The first section to be opened was a 21-mile segment between Leeds and Riverside in the early 1960s. The next section to open was a 28-mile 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 four-mile stretch between Avenue I in Ensley and Arkadelphia Road (U.S. 78/State Route 5) near Birmingham-Southern College. This was the first segment of Interstate highway to open in Birmingham. This segment, as well as a one-mile 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 Interstate 20 completed in Alabama, including a 50-mile segment between Epes and Tuscaloosa, a three-mile segment between Fairfield and Ensley, a two-mile segment between U.S. Route 78 and Interstate 65, a six-mile segment between U.S. Route 78 in Riverside and State Route 77 in Lincoln, then an additional 13 miles leading to State Route 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 Tallapoosa Street (State Route 79) near Birmingham Municipal Airport, then at U.S. 78 in Irondale. Also, the segment of the route between Bessemer and Fairfield was completed. In the eastern part of the state, I-20 was extended east from Oxford to State Route 9 near Heflin.

During the late 1970s, Interstate 20 was completed in east Alabama; however, only six miles of the route was opened since the route was not complete in Georgia. The segment between the Alabama/Georgia state line and Douglasville was among the final segments of Interstate highway to be completed in Georgia. The temporary end of Interstate 20 in Alabama was at State Route 46. Also, the final section of Interstate 20 connecting Tuscaloosa and Birmingham was completed, as the section of U.S. Route 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 Interstate 20 between the Mississippi state line and Birmingham. The final segment of the route to be completed was an eight-mile section between Irondale and Leeds. This segment opened in 1985.

Interstate 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]

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 – Gainesville, Epes
Greene 32.229 51.868 32 Boligee
40.766 65.607 40 SR 14 – Aliceville, Eutaw
45.334 72.958 45 Union
52.244 84.079 52 US 11 (SR-7) / US 43 (SR-13) – Knoxville
Tuscaloosa 62.466 100.529 62 Fosters
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, south exit 0, north exits 0A-B; 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 overlap
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; 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 overlap
110.021 177.062 110 Alabama Adventure Parkway
112.341 180.795 112 18th Street, 19th Street
113.280 182.306 113 18th Avenue
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
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 and southbound entrance
125.639 202.196 125B 22nd Street – Downtown Birmingham Signed as exit 125 southbound
126.239 203.162 126A US 31 (SR-3 / Carraway Boulevard / Elton B. Stephens Expressway) / US 280 east – Civic Center Western terminus of US-280
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 overlap
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 Brompton 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 overlap
Pell City 156.564 251.965 156 US 78 east (SR-4 east) – Eden, Pell City, Odenville Eastern end of US-78/SR-4 overlap
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 overlap
191.859 308.767 191 US 431 south (SR-1 south) to US 78 Southern end of US-431/SR-1 overlap
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

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: Bing / Google


Interstate 20
Previous state:
Mississippi
Alabama Next state:
Georgia