Why is the beltline needed?
Frequently Asked Questions
Construction of the Northern Beltline is expected to enhance cross-region accessibility, create jobs, stimulate economic growth and respond to existing development, as well as address future traffic growth. Birmingham is unique among U.S. urban areas because it has four interstates that converge and connect to other southeastern metropolitan areas. The Beltline touches every mainline interstate in Jefferson County and creates significant opportunities for growth and prosperity.
When will the Beltline be completed?
The entire Northern Beltline project is a 52-mile multi-lane highway that will stretch from I-59 in northeast Jefferson County to the I-459 interchange with I-20/59 near Bessemer. Based on the 2014 estimate, the entire project should be completed by 2054. Estimates are updated annually.
When will the current project be completed?
Grading of the first project, between state highways SR 79 and SR 75, should be completed by the Fall of 2016. Remaining construction, including the bridges and paving for this first section, as well as other sections within the 52-mile corridor, will commence as design, environmental investigations and funding details are completed.
Where will the money come from?
Because Congress made the Appalachian Development (APD) Highway System a priority, any projects on the BNB that are authorized by September 30, 2050 are eligible for 100% Federal funding, with no requirement for matching funds from the State. The first phase of the Beltline was constructed using the remaining designated APD funds. Remaining APD projects will be funded from ALDOT's overall funding. Specific project funding is determined based upon available funding and needs assessment, among other considerations.
How much will the entire project cost?
Based on the 2014 estimate, the total cost for the entire project is estimated to be $5.342 billion including inflation and project risk factors per Federal Highway Administration requirements. Estimates are updated annually. Portions of the Beltline will be let for construction as designs are complete and funds available.
Wouldn't the money be better spent on other highway projects?
Congress has designated the Birmingham Northern Beltline as a national priority. State and local leaders agree that the completion of the Beltline is significant due to its goals of enhancing cross-region accessibility and stimulating economic growth. These priorities and benefits will continue to be weighed against the many transportation needs of the State as funding becomes available.
What is ALDOT doing to protect sensitive environmental areas?
The design incorporates more bridges, additional detention ponds and level spreaders to protect the surface water and aquatic species. The systems designed to protect Self Creek are effective and functioning properly. There were no impaired (Section 303 d) streams in this first project for construction.
When construction commenced in February 2014, there were no threatened and endangered species in the construction area. On May 4, 2015, the Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Northern Long Eared Bat as a threatened species. Clearing required for preliminary work for future projects and active construction is being closely coordinated with species experts and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
Additional sections will be reviewed closer to the time of construction to ensure future conditions are evaluated prior to final design and construction.
Will the Beltline affect drinking water quality?
No, drinking water will not be affected in any way. Drinking water is regulated by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and monitored by the Birmingham Water Works.
How will ALDOT deal with stormwater runoff?
Stormwater runoff will be managed both during and after construction of the Beltline. ALDOT will focus on how it manages communication, work, water, erosion and sediment as it meets regulatory requirements related to construction stormwater discharges. ALDOT will also utilize permanent practices that cause post-development hydrology to mimic pre-development hydrology as closely as possible. Some Low Impact Development features such as level spreaders, step pool conveyances, and vegetative strips and swales will be incorporated into the work.
What permits and environmental regulations apply to construction of the Beltline?
ALDOT will obtain a Construction Stormwater Permit and the contractor that is awarded the job will become a co-permittee. ALDOT prepared a Construction Best Management Practices Plan (CBMPP) certified by a Qualified Credentialed Professional (QCP). The Contractor will be required to submit a Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP). In addition, ALDOT has obtained a US Army Corps of Engineers 404 permit. The project will be covered by the ALDOT MS4 permit.
What about potential environmental impacts during later projects of Beltline construction?
Assessment of environmental issues for those projects of the Northern Beltline to be constructed in future years is on-going at ALDOT. As part of the planning and decision process for those future projects of the Beltline, ALDOT will continue to conduct additional environmental investigations to supplement the earlier investigations to ensure that any impacts to endangered or threatened species or waters of the State are avoided, minimized and appropriately mitigated.
How will construction be inspected?
ALDOT project personnel will administer the contract locally, providing daily construction inspection of contractor operations for quality and conformance with the contract requirements. Water quality inspections will also be conducted daily by ALDOT and contractor Qualified Credentialed Inspectors and Qualified Credentialed Professionals dedicated specifically to environmental compliance. ALDOT 3rd Division and ALDOT Central Office stormwater professionals will conduct additional water quality inspections providing guidance and oversight as needed. Weekly and rainfall inspection reports and notifications will be transmitted to ADEM electronically and will become a part of the project's Construction Best Management Practices Plan which is maintained at the project office.
I have seen equipment working in areas that are not in the current construction project. What is going on?
ALDOT is performing pre-construction activities on several other sections of the Beltline. Those activities may include field surveys and investigating the soil and rock quality and characteristics. This information will be used by engineers to develop design plans and specifications for construction of future sections of the Beltline. The status of sections under design can be seen on the Future Projects tab.