Interstate 20 or I -20 is an Interstate Highway in the US state of Alabama. The highway runs east-west through the state, running from Cuba at the Mississippi border via Birmingham to the Georgia border at Lebanon. The road is double-numbered between the Mississippi and Birmingham borders with Interstate 59 for 209 kilometers in length. The total length of I-20 is 346 kilometers.
At the hamlet of Cuba, Interstate 20 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.
The I-20 then has only 2×2 lanes, and then you enter the eastern suburbs. They will cross US 78, which will then run parallel to I-20. A little further on, there are again 2×3 lanes available. In the suburb of Irondale, a 4-level stack interchange crosses Interstate 459 again. It ends a little further north on I-59, the road from the west is not of great importance to travelers on I-20.
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I-20 east of Birmingham.
The I-20 will continue to have 2×3 lanes even outside the Birmingham conurbation. Only at Brompton does the road narrow to 2×2 lanes. You come back into a wooded and hilly area, with sometimes steep ridges. At Pell City, you cross US 231, which runs from Montgomery to Huntsville. At Riverside one crosses the dammed river Coosa. Almost the entire route of this river consists of reservoirs. The last major city before the Georgia border is Anniston, which has a population of 24,000, but also has some suburbs. Here one crosses US 431, which runs from Columbus to Gadsden. At the hamlet of Lebanon they cross the border with Georgia, after which Interstate 20 in Georgia continues to Atlanta.
Exact opening dates of the I-20 are unknown. The first section opened in the early 1960s between Leeds and Riverside, just east of Birmingham. The section between Knoxville and Tuscaloosa opened in the mid-1960s, and in 1965, 35 miles around Anniston opened to traffic. In the late 1960s, the line was opened through Birmingham, as well as a short section near the Mississippi border near Cuba. In the early 1970s, the stretch opened east of Tuscaloosa, as did the section between Riverside and Lincoln, including the bridge over the Alabama River. I-20 was completed through Birmingham in the mid-1970s, and in the late 1970s the easternmost section at the Georgia border was completedopened. The last sections opened in the mid-1980s, such as between Irondale and Leeds, east of Birmingham, and from Cuba to Livingston in the west of the state.
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.
During 2011-2013, significant portions of I-20 in eastern Alabama were widened to 2×3 lanes. The section between Leeds and Pell City was widened to 2×3 lanes in 2013, as well as a section south of Anniston. Between early 2013 and early 2015, a portion of Cleburne County was widened to 2×3 lanes from SR-46 east of Heflin to just before the Georgia border.
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 2×3 lane section on the east side of Cottondale was completed.
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 traffic 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.
Birmingham – Georgia
Large parts of I-20 east of Birmingham already have 2×3 lanes. Between Riverside and west of Oxford is another 2×2 lane, including the bridge over the Coosa River. In the east of Birmingham, there is also a 2×2 stretch between Exit 130 and Exit 132, which consists largely of a long overpass just east of I-59.
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. In the city of Birmingham, it increases to 127,000 vehicles west of I-65 and 155,000 vehicles at Downtown Birmingham and 124,000 vehicles before the junction with I-59. After the I-59 is turned off, there are about 58,000 left. 67,000 vehicles drive east of I-459, dropping to 38,000 vehicles at Anniston and 33,000 as far as 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-59)||2×4|
|exit 130||Exit 132||2×2|
|Exit 132||Exit 162||2×3|
|Exit 162||Exit 179||2×2|
|Exit 179||Exit 191||2×3|
|Exit 191||Exit 205||2×2|
|Exit 205||Exit 215||2×3|