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59/20 Bridge Replacement: 2 new ramps to open this month

I-59/20 (abc3340.com)

Two new ramps will be opening in downtown Birmingham by the end of the month.

The ramps on 11th Avenue North and 17th Street North are part of the 59/20 bridge replacement project. Both must be open by the end of the month in order for the contractor to avoid fines.

The 11th avenue ramp will be the tallest of all new ramps, offering drivers three options. The left lane will take drivers to 59/20 South toward Tuscaloosa, the middle to I-65 South, and the right to I-65 North toward Huntsville. The 17th street will take drivers into downtown Birmingham.

The project is part of a mission from ALDOT to take the "malfunction" out of the area known as “Malfunction Junction.”

Drivers like Jacob Wanniger are getting used to constant changes through downtown.

“It’s a lot of construction, a lot of bridge work,” said Wanniger.

Wanniger says it may take a little time to get used to the new ramps.

“I think it’s for the best,” he said. “It’s going to definitely ease the traffic and ease the commuters as well.”

ALDOT Regional Engineer DeJarvis Leonard says drivers will notice the difference.

“The importance of these ramps is that it pulls all the conflicts out of the interchange,” he explained.

Governor Kay Ivey says the project is still on schedule for completion in 2020. At some point, old bridges will be demolished.

Leonard hopes the old nickname dies fast.

“Help us name it,” he said with a smile. “Why don’t you do that with us? Help us give it a new name.”

“We’ll just have to see how it turns out,” said Wanniger. “Obviously, Malfunction Junction has been a staple around here….. Functioning Junction, yeah that would be awesome. That would be great.”

The total cost of this project is around $700 million.

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