The recent completion of Birmingham’s I-59/20 Central Business District (CBD) Interstate bridges brings about a renewed focus on the space underneath the bridges known as City Walk BHAM. The goal of City Walk BHAM is to provide a space to assist in reconnecting Birmingham and create a destination and common area open to all citizens.

Conceptual planning began on City Walk BHAM in 2014 via a study conducted with REV Birmingham to analyze not only what could be done under the bridge to make this a great space for people, but also to create a fresh and vibrant space. The 2014 study only homed in on 8 blocks from 18th to 24th streets. In 2015, the lighting scheme of the I-59/20 Bridge replacement job was incorporated into the construction plans. The lighting scheme included LED ribbon lighting along the outer edges of the bridge along with the provision of ambient and functional lighting under the bridge.

At every phase of the project ALDOT has worked to engage the public and generate widespread participation in the project to change public perception of the area. In July of 2018, several public involvement meetings at Boutwell Auditorium were held where people could review the plans for City Walk BHAM. This public involvement process led to an evolution of the design for the space.

Community Engagement

The approach to creating City Walk BHAM has been a community-driven process. It began with public involvement meetings to learn what the community wanted the public space to look like and what kinds of activities people would want to do there. Everyone’s input has been carefully recorded and considered. Design was the last phase of this process; it only happened after the programming and budgeting phases were completed.

A variety of amenities will be available to the public for use when the space is open. Daily amenities and core programs will include fitness classes and a wide range of other activities. Those programs will be supplemented with weekly and monthly activities, along with events, like concerts, holiday celebrations, and festivals.

Project Timeline

Archived Plans

The 2014 study only homed in on 8 blocks from 18th to 24th streets. Some of the ideas that came from this study were to create recreational and art spaces, green spaces, and classroom space, among others.

In 2016, the space was looked at again, except this time the footprint was larger and included approximately 10 blocks spanning from 15th Street North on the West, to 25th Street North on the East. The space is approximately 5,000 linear feet in length. The study now would focus on the space and how it would be transformed due to the new bridge construction overhead. The study involved a small public outreach component, which did provide the design team with criteria and program for the space, but not enough input was received. It was decided the sampling of participation needed to be larger.

In 2018, ALDOT teamed with the City of Birmingham to develop a process that was driven by the citizens of Birmingham and the surrounding community. A robust public engagement process was developed and executed. Several opportunities developed for public engagement, which included public input meetings, a project-dedicated webpage, social media outlet via Facebook, and additional outreach to neighborhood community meetings. The design of this unique space under the bridge will be based on the desires and the input from the community. Branded as City Walk BHAM, this project will create a unique, vibrant public space full of programmatic elements and activities which will enliven and strengthen the space.

Through community engagement that has included public input meetings and active social media, the vision of this project continues to come into sharper focus based on the ideas and desires of those who will use the space. And very soon, City Walk BHAM will be a unique and vibrant destination that will enliven and strengthen the entire Birmingham community.