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      Groundbreaking set for Birmingham Beltline

      Officials are breaking ground near Birmingham on a 52-mile road that would complete a perimeter highway around Alabama's largest metropolitan area. Gov. Robert Bentley is among the leaders expected to be on hand Monday morning at a ceremony to mark the first phase of work on the Northern Beltline. Bentley approved the first stage of construction in the fall, but the project is expected to take more than 25 years to complete. Environmental groups have filed suit to block the road, claiming the government ignored clean water rules to approve construction. But work is moving ahead on the long-delayed road. The project is expected to have a total cost of almost $5.5 billion. The road would connect with Interstate 459 southwest of Birmingham and Interstate 59 northeast of the city.