Hailed as Unparalleled Economic Development Engine
Gov. Robert Bentley joined Alabama Department of Transportation Director John Cooper, Rep. Spencer Bachus and dozens of local and state officials for a ground-breaking ceremony today in Palmerdale, Alabama.
The ceremony took place at the first 1.34 mile Beltline segment, between Alabama Highways 75 and 79.
When completed, the 52.5-mile Beltline will run through the western and northern part of Jefferson County and join existing I-459 in Bessemer to I-59 near Argo.
“At long last, this much needed project is now officially underway,” said Mike Thompson, CEO of Thompson Tractor and Chairman of the Coalition for Regional Transportation.
“The Northern Beltline will have such a positive economic impact on our children and grandchildren. This project will allow our metropolitan area to catch up to our neighboring southeastern states in transportation infrastructure that is so important to the continued growth of our area,” Thompson said. “Our citizens deserve no less.”
The Beltline project is expected to have a major economic impact on Birmingham, Jefferson County and surrounding cities and counties.
Brian Hilson, President and CEO of the Birmingham Business Alliance, said, “The Northern Beltline has been a top priority of the Birmingham Business Alliance for many years and it is gratifying for our community to see it begin construction. The economic impact of this project on our region will be tremendous.
“Not only will it attract more jobs and capital investment to the area and be constructed in an environmentally thoughtful way, it will provide a safe and more efficient way to travel throughout our region and ease congestion on many of our roadways, Hilson said.
The project’s total economic impact during the construction phase alone is in excess of $7 billion. Almost 70,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created during the construction phase. After construction, over $2 billion annually will added to the state’s economy with 20,000 new jobs per year created in the Birmingham metropolitan area.
State and local governments will also benefit from $155 million in new tax revenues during the construction phase and $54 million in new tax revenues annually after construction is completed.
Supported by 42 area municipalities and county governments, the project is fully funded by federal dollars under the current federal highway bill. No state or local funding is required.
Other benefits of the Beltline construction:
- Better air quality. With fewer vehicles snarled in traffic, air quality will improve.
- Safer highways. Reducing traffic loads on existing interstate and state highways means improved safety.
- More funds for schools, government services. Increased revenues from an improved local economy means more funding for schools and local government services.