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Birmingham To Get Lit With Millions For New Interstate Lighting

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By Ryan Michaels
The Birmingham Times

Birmingham and Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) officials this week announced a plan to fix interstate lighting throughout the city and nearly split the $3.5 million cost. 

The endeavor includes the restoration and maintenance of the interstate lighting on I-59/20 from Tallapoosa Street to the I-59/20 route interchange. The City Council voted Tuesday to invest $1.65 million and ALDOT will share the remaining cost.

“It is important that our city highways and roadways have proper lighting for safety’s sake, ease of navigation and also to display the beauty of all that makes Birmingham great,” Mayor Randall Woodfin said. “This partnership means a better Birmingham for our residents and visitors.”  

In addition to fixing the lighting along I-59/20, ALDOT, will make improvements in the following areas:

  • I-20/59 at Arkadelphia Road  
  • I-20/59 at the Ensley 5 Points Interchanges (includes Ensley 5 Points Ave West, 21st Street Ensley, and 19th Street Ensley)  
  • I-65 at Green Springs Ave  
  • I-65 at University Blvd

City Council President Wardine Alexander said she was excited to vote for the “much-needed lighting.”

“I’m very happy to see us enter into this in conjunction with ALDOT and would like to see that this also be included in other areas as this particular program expands. I’m just happy to see the lights become available, and I’m glad to see the steps that are being taken to prevent vandalism so that we won’t have additional costs,” Alexander told the Birmingham Times.

Councilor J.T. Moore said some stretches of I-59/20 can be “pitch-black dark . . . so [I’m] definitely excited to see it happening.”

Much of the repairs should be completed before the World Games 2022, which begins July 7 through July 10.

“We are very grateful to ALDOT for pursuing this work, and for participating in restoring these lights,” said James Fowler, director of transportation. Some of the needed repairs are restoring lighting due to theft of copper wiring.

“We are taking extra precautions to reduce the likelihood of vandalism,” Fowler said. “While no system is foolproof, we are switching to aluminum wiring and are also rebuilding the system in a way that will make the wiring more difficult to remove and have virtually no salvage value.”   

  “ALDOT appreciates the opportunity to work with the City of Birmingham in order to get the interstate lights working,” said DeJarvis Leonard, East Central Region Engineer. “We will continue to work with them to ensure that the lights are functioning properly in the near future.”  

  Councilor Hunter Williams voiced concerns on how far the lighting improvements would reach.

He was focused on eastern Birmingham and asked for the mayor’s commitment to extend repairs to those areas of the city. “[The plan] really does not include the eastern side of Birmingham, so I just want to be very intentional about making sure that we do that,” the councilor said.

Woodfin said he is committed to starting the conversation about eastern Birmingham with ALDOT and emphasized that the city needs outside funding to complete additional large infrastructure projects of this scale.

Tuesday’s agreement was merely the beginning, Woodfin said.

“I know the residents in that area are reaching out to you. They reach out to us saying, ‘Hey, we need this as well.’ We agree. Please consider today, everybody, as a start. This will be a very long-term project. I think it took us a little over two years to get to today,” Woodfin said.