July 21, 2023 10:00am

Does the Northern Beltline still fit Birmingham?

Birmingham leaders sound off on the Northern Beltline

Photo of Ty West
Birmingham, AL Correspondent

The Northern Beltline has had its share of stops and starts, but influential Birmingham leaders believe the project is still a good idea.

That was the big takeaway from this month’s Power Poll, which asked readers to sound off on the long-planned 52-mile project, which would create a new interstate bypass in the northern portions of the metro area stretching from Interstate 59 in northeastern Jefferson County to Interstate 20/59 near Bessemer.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents said they still believe the Northern Beltline is a good use of infrastructure dollars. Prior cost estimates have topped $5 billion.

One factor driving optimism in the project? Nearly 70% of respondents believe the Northern Beltline could have a similar impact on commercial and residential development as Interstate 459 did for the southern portions of the metro.

The completion of Interstate 459 ushered in a significant era of development around its perimeter and helped fuel growth in suburbs like Hoover and Vestavia Hills, among others.

Many believe that could happen in northern Jefferson County, with 34% of respondents saying they believe the potential for opening up new cities and suburbs to development is the biggest potential benefit of the Beltline.

While the majority of respondents have positive expectations for the Beltline, many believe it will be awhile before they take shape. Only 54% of respondents believe it will be complete by 2050.

Power Poll Members: Do you have a friend or colleague who should be on Power Poll? Please invite them to join!

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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