By Brandon Moseley

President Joseph R. Biden (D) signed a new infrastructure bill on Monday. While Congressman Gary Palmer (R-AL06) opposed the bill itself, he and Congressman David Trone (D-Maryland) were responsible for a provision in the bill that will provide funding to help complete the Northern Beltline.

“Funding the Northern Beltline has consistently been one of my top priorities,” Palmer said. “Birmingham is currently one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country without a complete beltline around it. Completing the Northern Beltline will benefit the entire region and enhance economic development and employment opportunities."

The provision in the infrastructure bill was inserted from the Finish the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) Act. It will provide $1.25 billion for the construction of incomplete sections of the ADHS. Alabama will receive $369 million of that over the next five years for construction of the Northern Beltline. The Northern Beltline connecting Interstate 59, near Trussville, to Interstate 65, near Gardendale, and then I-65 to Interstate 22, is Alabama’s only ADHS project that is incompleted. Eventually, the final leg will connect I-22 with Interstate 20/59, near Bessemer.

“The Appalachian Regional Commission has noted the completion will have an annual economic impact exceeding $2 billion in 10 years and has the potential to create 14,000 jobs,” Palmer concluded. “This is the opportunity we have been working for as a region and a state. Now is the time for us to take advantage of it and complete the work by finishing the Northern Beltline and building a better future for the Birmingham metro area and central Alabama.”

The origins of the Birmingham Northern Beltline, or BNB, trace back to the early 1960s when the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) began working closely with local leaders on planning a comprehensive regional highway network. ALDOT completed the southern leg of the beltway (I-459) in 1984, but the Northern Beltline was delayed due to disagreements over its necessity, environmental concerns over its route, and claims from some in Congress that it was a "pork-barrel project."

Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL07) supported the bill and was at the signing ceremony.

“Thanks to our hard work, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act contains transformational provisions that will directly benefit the people of Alabama’s Seventh District,” said Sewell. “In addition to creating jobs and rebuilding our roads and bridges, the bill will help alleviate blocked railroad crossings and invest hundreds of millions of dollars in improving Alabama’s water infrastructure. Today, I will proudly stand with President Biden as he signs this bill and delivers these historic wins for the people!”

It will take years to finish the Northern Beltline, but it has been highly sought after by the Jefferson County Commission.