Interstate 59/20 Birmingham CBD Reopens

The newly completed Interstate 59/20 bridges and ramps in Birmingham’s Central Business District (CBD) opened in January 2020 to the relief and delight of travelers who patiently dealt with construction for nearly  5 years including a major downtown bridge closure and rerouting of traffic for 12 months.

Built in the 1960s, Birmingham’s CBD bridges were designed with a 30-year lifespan. The interchange at I-65 and I-59/20 became known as “Malfunction Junction” due to issues with traffic flow, congestion and accidents. ALDOT’s studies to evaluate repair versus replacement of the bridges and possible new routes led to the decision to demolish and replace the bridges and redesign route interchanges.

BHATE was selected by ALDOT in the very early stages to provide subsurface utility engineering (SUE) and geotechnical services for the design of the bridge foundations, retaining walls and ramps. During the design process, BHATE mapped underground utilities and scanned over 600 boring locations to establish utility conflicts. By identifying the exact depths and locations of these lines and locating numerous undocumented utilities, BHATE saved ALDOT and the project a significant amount of cost and prevented downtime delays.

Robert G. Lee, P.E., with ALDOT said the following regarding the SUE work done by BHATE, “This information was used to help a determination on where we could modify plans to eliminate utility conflicts and also to identify which ones would have to relocate. The data helped the utilities in the project area update their company records and Geographic Information Systems with more accurate information on the location of their facilities. There were utilities shown on plans that we thought we would have to address, but the investigation eliminated those lines.

During construction, we assisted multiple contractors with temporary excavation and shoring design, materials quality control and inspections. BHATE’s material testing laboratory undergoes rigorous national accreditation evaluations performed by the AASHTO Materials Reference Laboratory (AMRL) and the Concrete and Cement Reference Laboratory (CCRL).

BHATE is proud to be part of this $700 million project that improved driving conditions for Alabamians and travelers through Birmingham.