Independence Drive

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Independence Drive is the name given to the approximately 1-3/4 mile stretch of U.S. Highway 31 in the Homewood city limits that is not part of the Elton B. Stephens Expressway. It extends from the end of the expressway in the north to almost the top of Shades Mountain to the south.


Originally, the section of road north of 29th Avenue South to the Homewood city limits was known as East Avenue. South of that point, it was Montgomery Highway. Prior to the creation of the Red Mountain cut, going north the highway followed what is now 29th Avenue and crossed the mountain on what is now 18th Street South.

In 1937, East Avenue was improved as a so-called "Trailer Route" with gentler curves than the existing Montgomery Highway. The improvements created a wider, straighter route up the north side of Shades Mountain, the current path of Independence Drive. In the early 1940s the R. H. "Bob" Wharton Bridge, part of the cloverleaf intersection at Lakeshore Drive, was built and the highway was designated U.S. Route 31. Also during the 1940s, the northern end of the road was renamed 20th Street South when Homewood renamed several streets to continue Birmingham's street numbering system.

When the Elton B. Stephens Expressway was completed in 1970, the portion connecting to what would be named Independence Drive was just east of the existing 20th Street, leaving a short portion of that original street north of 28th Avenue South. It was in 1976, the American Bicentennial, that Homewood officials renamed the road in honor of "all Homewood citizens, past or future, who sacrifice their lives for freedom" (Summe, p. 233).

Notable locations

For an alphabetical list of locations, see the Independence Drive category.

Only intersections with traffic lights or overpasses are included. There are several additional intersections with residential roads.


  • Summe, Sheryl Spradling. (2001). Homewood: The Life of a City. Homewood, AL: Friends of the Homewood Public Library.
Montgomery Highway
Homewood Vestavia Hills Hoover Pelham Alabaster
Current U.S. Highway 31 Independence Dr. Montgomery Hwy Montgomery Hwy Pelham Parkway 1st Street
Previous routes 18th St S, 29th Ave S, Old Montgomery Hwy Lorna Road, Old Montgomery Hwy Old Montgomery Hwy Old Highway 31