After years of planning, construction of a bypass around the northern part of Birmingham, Alabama is finally set to take place, but it will be a long time before it's completed.
Gov. Robert Bentley said work on the Northern Beltline, to be known at Interstate 422, will being next year. The announcement came after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday approved a permit for construction of the first phase of the route.
The Northern Beltline will be a 52-mile highway that will stretch from Interstate 59 northeast of Birmingham, to the junction of I-459 and I-20/59, southwest of the city. The first phase of the project is a 1.34 mile portion between State Highway 75 and State Highway 79. Once construction begins, completion of the first portion of the Beltline is expected to take five to six years.
The new Interstate, was mandated by Congress and will take 30-35 years to complete costing as much as nearly $5.5 billion. It will link I-20, I-22, I-59 and I-65. There is already a loop to the south of Birmingham, I-459, that was completed many years ago.
The Alabama Department of Transportation has launched a website about the project at BetterBeltline.org