Interstate 59 or I -59 is an Interstate Highway in the US state of Alabama. The highway runs diagonally across the state, from Cuba on the Mississippi border via Birmingham to the Georgia border at Sulfur Springs. The route is double-numbered for 209 kilometers with Interstate 20 between the Mississippi and Birmingham border. The entire route is 388 kilometers long.
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At the hamlet of Cuba, Interstate 59 in Mississippi enters Alabama. There are 2×2 lanes, and one passes through densely wooded area. US 11 runs parallel to I-20/I-59. There aren’t many exits, as this part of Alabama is fairly sparsely built. The area is quite flat. From the village of Eutaw, US 43 and US 11 also run parallel to the highway. Just before the city of Tuscaloosa you cross the river Black Warrior. Tuscaloosa is a medium-sized city with a population of 83,000, and the principal city in western Alabama. Via a cloverleaf one crosses the Interstate 359, which leads to downtown Tuscaloosa. It also crosses the US 43, which runs to Florence in the north of the state. From this, the road widens to 2×3 lanes, crossing US 82, which runs from Columbus in Mississippi to Montgomery. After a few kilometers the road narrows again to 2×2 lanes.
The area is gradually becoming more hilly, and US 11 still runs parallel to the highway. One then reaches the city of Birmingham after 170 kilometers after the Mississippi border.
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The I-20/I-59 junction in eastern Birmingham.
At the suburb of Bessemer, one crosses Interstate 459, which forms the southern bypass of the conurbation. After Bessemer, 2×3 lanes are available. The agglomeration is built in a fairly tight grid pattern. There are many trees in the residential areas, so that the neighborhoods have a green appearance. A little further on, there are already 2×4 lanes available. The skyline of Birmingham is already visible from the highway. An unusual star interchange crosses Interstate 65, which runs from Mobile and Montgomery in the south to Huntsville and Nashville in the north. One then passes with 2×4 lanes close to the center of Birmingham. On the east side of the center one crosses the US 31, the Stephens Expressway, which runs to a number of suburbs close to downtown. It also passes close to Birmingham International Airport. Near this airport, Interstate 59 continues straight toward Gadsden and Chattanooga, while Interstate 20 turns east toward Atlanta.
One passes 2×3 lanes along the airport, and in the northeast of the city Interstate 459 ends at I-59. After a few more suburbs, you leave the agglomeration, and the road still has 2×2 lanes.
I-59 at Gadsden.
One then passes through a densely wooded and hilly area, with steep ridges. US 11 also runs parallel to I-59 here. At Ashville you cross US 231, which runs from Montgomery to Huntsville. Along the road are some plateaus, small plateaus with a large difference in height over a short distance. Interstate 759 exits at Gadsden, which leads to the center of town. With a population of 37,000, Gadsden is the last major town before the Georgia border, although it’s still quite some distance away. The highway runs almost through a canyon of sorts, with steep ridges on both sides of the road. The I-59 is therefore a scenic route. At Sulfur Springs one then crosses the border into Georgia, where theInterstate 59 in Georgia continues toward Chattanooga.
Many I-59 opening dates are unknown. The first part opened in the mid-1960s, a stretch of approximately 30 kilometers from Tuscaloosa to the southwest. In about 1965, the section opened in the northeast of the state, from Gadsden to the Georgia border. At the end of the 1960s, the first part opened in Birmingham and a piece near the Mississippi border near Cuba. In the early 1970s, a stretch between Epes and Knoxville opened in the west of the state. It also opened the route through the center of Birmingham. The route through Birmingham was completed in the mid 1970s.
Around 2003-2004, I-20/59 between Tuscaloosa and Birmingham was largely widened to 2×3 lanes. Right on I-20/59 is a Mercedes-Benz factory. Between 2014 and 2019, the remaining section between Tuscaloosa and Birmingham was widened to 2×3 lanes. This section runs from McFarland Boulevard in Tuscaloosa to the east of the junction with State Route 7, east of Cottondale. In 2017, the section on the east side of Cottondale has already been completed with 2×3 lanes.
In downtown Birmingham, I-20/I-59 crosses two overpasses, between I-65 and US 31/280. These viaducts were originally built in 1971 and were in poor condition, and their use is higher than expected in the 1970s. Therefore, the overpasses were completely replaced, a project that cost $700 million. The new viaducts are slightly higher and have 2×4 throughput lanes. During the main phase of the work, I-20/59 through the center was closed for a year, with a diversion via I-459. The closure of I-20/59 began on January 21, 2019 and lasted until January 17, 2020.
Some 23,000 vehicles cross the Mississippi border every day, which then remains fairly stable until Tuscaloosa, when intensities rise to 54,000 vehicles east of the interchange with I-359. Between Tuscaloosa and Birmingham it rises from 48,000 to 67,000 vehicles for I-459 before falling to 44,000 vehicles at Bessemer. It runs in the city of Birmingham to 127,000 vehicles west of I-65 and 155,000 vehicles at Downtown Birmingham and 124,000 vehicles before the I-20 split. Thereafter, 73,000 vehicles, dropping to 63,000 vehicles after the interchange with I-459 and 22,000 to 28,000 vehicles continue to Gadsden. North of Gadsden, there are still 15,000 to 18,000 vehicles per day, with 14,000 vehicles near the Georgia border.
|Exit 0||Exit 71||2×2|
|Exit 71||Exit 73||2×3|
|Exit 73||Exit 77||2×2|
|Exit 77||Exit 106||2×3|
|Exit 106||Exit 118||2×2|
|Exit 118||Exit 120||2×3|
|Exit 120||Exit 125||2×4|
|Exit 125||Exit 126||2×3|
|Exit 126||Exit 130 (I-20)||2×4|
|Exit 130 (I-20)||Exit 132||2×3|
|Exit 132||Exit 241||2×2|