Birmingham, Ala.’s Highway’s Cost Estimate Grows

Fri March 04, 2011 - Southeast Edition

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) A new estimate shows that Birmingham’s 52-mi. (83.7 km) Northern Beltline will cost $4.7 billion to build.

The Alabama Department of Transportation said the new estimate was developed in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration, which is asking states to review major projects to account for cost overruns.

The previous estimate for the beltline was $3.4 billion in late 2009.

Proponents say the cost jump points to the need to get the beltline built as quickly as possible.

Opponents say the new price tag should prompt a re-evaluation.

Plans call for the new freeway to branch off Interstate 59 near the Jefferson-St. Clair County line and arc across north Jefferson County, crossing I-65 north of Gardendale and then dropping southwest.