June 28th: ReThink280 to Present to Shelby County Commission

Please plan to attend the meeting of the Shelby County Commission on Monday, June 28, 2010, at 5:00pm. ALDOT will present its Highway 280 elevated highway/toll road proposal at 5:00pm. ReThink280 will present its alternative plan at 5:30pm.

The Commissioners are considering a resolution on this issue, and it is very important that they hear from all concerned citizens, especially those who live and work along the U.S. 280 corridor in Shelby County.

The address of the meeting is: 200 West College Street, Columbiana, AL 35051, Phone (205) 669-3740. Please plan to attend this important and informative meeting!


Can ALDOT Listen on U.S. 280?

Hasn't our region grown too big to build large road projects with no community planning? We think so, and so do Birmingham's Metropolitan Planning Organization and Regional Planning Commission. In our recent opinion piece (see below), ReThink280 challenges ALDOT to work with area cities, stakeholders, and the MPO/RPC for a sensible, sustainable solution for U.S. 280.
Read the entire article by clicking here


Shelby Commission to Vote Soon on U.S. 280

Shelby Considers 280 Plan
by Malcomb Daniels -- The Birmingham News
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
The Shelby County Commission on Monday may become the latest government to take up a resolution that urges the state to take action in improving traffic on U.S. 280. The Alabama Department of Transporation has on the table plans for an elevated toll highway on U.S. 280 from Eagle Point to I-459, and added toll lanes up to the Elton B. Stephens Expressway.

Several Birmingham area governments have passed resolutions that either urge ALDOT to move forward with its plans, or to look for alternatives. Meanwhile, ALDOT officials have said that Gov. Bob Riley and ALDOT Director Joe McInnes are not going to move ahead with the $800 million project without a consensus from local governments.
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Shelby County has considered at least one proposal that would throw the county's support behind ALDOT's elevated toll road concept and urge the state to keep moving ahead with plans to fix traffic problems on U.S. 280. "We're definitely encouraging them to continue the process of studying the problem and finding a solution for it," Commissioner Corley Ellis said.

Hoover, Chelsea, and Westover have passed resolutions in support of ALDOT's efforts to ease congestion on 280. Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills have passed resolutions urging ALDOT to move forward with some kind of improvements, while not endorsing the current plans. Homewood has passed a resolution opposing ALDOT's plans for an elevated highway. Birmingham, where council members have voiced opposition to an elevated highway, passed a resolution expressing concerns, but did not come straight out against ALDOT's plans.

William Sweet, president of the Inverness Master Homeowners Association, recently presented Shelby County with a list of concerns about the project, including the elevated portion, noise, and what impact the road might have on businesses. Sweet said his group believes the inclusion of a mass transit component for U.S. 280 is going to be vital for any improvments to the highway to work.

From Macy's at the Summit

From Macy's at the Summit

Transportation Prescription for Healthy Cities

A detailed study entitled "Transportation Prescription for Healthy Cities" by Ian M. Lockwood, P.E., for those who are interested in more information, is available through the link to the downloadable (75 page) pdf file below.


Transportation Planning - Glatting Jackson Kercher Anglin


U.S. Highway 280 Alternatives Analysis and Visualization

The attached link is a 39 page pdf file prepared by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at The University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Musings on Bham's 280 by a California native

Can’t go around it, can’t go under it, don’t want to go over it…

February 7th, 2007

Like the camp song says, “can’t go around it”… “can’t go under it”… “can’t go over it”. On the subject of Highway 280’s congestion problems, some want to “go over it”. Personally, I think it’s best to improve our way THROUGH IT


BJCC Progress blocked by elevated highway per Director of Regional Planning Commission

"I believe the Civic Center area will always be a tough sell as long as that elevated road is there," (Charles) Ball (director of the Regional Planning Commission) said. http://www.al.com/birminghamnews/stories/index.ssf?/base/news/117360549967630.xml&coll=2

What if an elevated highway sliced Beale Street from the rest of Memphis? What if an elevated road kept pedestrians from Fourth Street Live! in Louisville?

Time is now to ask those questions, said Charles Ball, director of the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham.

City Leaders and residents fighting a proposal to elevate U.S. 280

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Elevated 280, before and after

Wednesday, March 14, 2007
News staff writer

Editorials from the Birmingham News


Would be bad for neighborhoods

Among the many lessons learned from the construction of the nation's interstate highway system was that elevated highways had a destructive effect on neighborhoods. In "Divided Highways," author Tom Lewis recounts how proposals for elevated highways in New Orleans, San Francisco, New York, Philadelphia and other large cities were rejected once neighborhood advocates realized the highway planners' raised roads would bring noise, pollution, grime and visual blight.

Granted, U.S. 280 is not an urban interstate, but an elevated highway on 280 would have these same impacts on the neighborhoods it passes.

As for "cool," big cities everywhere are now competing for young urban professionals to provide our work force, brain power and possibly leadership for the future. In the Nov. 25 edition of The New York Times, "downtown living, public transportation and plenty of entertainment options" were cited by young professionals as features that will attract them to their cities of choice.

Last year, while in St. Louis riding its light-rail mass transit system from the airport to downtown, my 19-year-old daughter asked me why we didn't have a train like that in Birmingham; great question, with no good answer.

There are other compelling reasons for including a mass transit option. Economic growth for Southern cities with mass transit exceeds that of cities without, and there is the obvious environmental benefit associated with moving people in mass rather than one or two at a time.

Bad for neighborhoods, not cool to young professionals: We need to drop the idea of an elevated highway and develop a smarter plan for our future.

Jeff Underwood


Renderings omit dark shadows:

Renderings in The News Thursday of the proposed elevated highway above U.S. 280 were lovely.

Oddly, though, the cars and trees cast shadows, but the highway never does. The highway just seems to be barely there, blending always into the sky. It's always sunny around the highway. I guess these must be the renderings of those who want to build it.

Now, let's see the drawings from those who oppose the highway - the drawings that will show the dark shadow it forever casts across the landscape, the litter that gathers below it, the stained and graffiti-covered concrete from a few years down the road.

Art Meripol

Mountain Brook

Natural assets must not be ruined:

Couching a large concrete structure through the middle of Mountain Brook and Homewood built to facilitate unfettered urban sprawl down U.S. 280 as a "tribute to nature" is an example of the spin being employed in the elevated highway concept.

The term "concept" is appropriate, because the Alabama Department of Transportation representative said at the public hearing that DOT will do its own design of the roadway if the project moves forward. The color pictures in your newspaper represent fanciful drawings by a private firm. (For example, the major intersection views do not show up/down ramps, and assumptions are made that cutting-edge lighting and roadway technologies would be part of the DOT's final, funded design.)

Notwithstanding the design, I disagree with the premise. The concept work assumes that the cities through which U.S. 280 runs are beholden to accommodate everyone who wants to drive without traffic on the road. The beauty of Homewood and Mountain Brook is a key reason I moved here to start a business, and it creates a positive impression of Birmingham in those who visit from elsewhere. We must be careful to not ruin the natural assets that enable the growth we hope to enjoy.

G.T. LaBorde

Mountain Brook

Only butterflies, bunnies missing:

It is very disappointing to learn The News is buying the slick marketing campaign of Progress 280 and others to build an elevated U.S. 280. The highly idealized and artfully Photoshopped "pictures" The News printed without qualification lack only pretty bunnies and butterflies to make their falsely pastoral setting complete.

The truth is there is nothing pretty about the elevated road, either environmentally or aesthetically. If you wanted to provide an accurate sense of what the elevated road might be like, color the blue skies gray from the resulting air pollution and the tunnel-like effect of the structure. The misleading perspective contained in the "photo" in no way reflects just how wide and massive the elevated structure would be, or how long a shadow it would cast. And any promised short-term improvements in air quality that may be realized by decreasing stop-and-go traffic are going to quickly be eclipsed by the even greater number of cars that will be on the road.

The pictures also need a soundtrack; perhaps you have the road noise from last year's Talladega 500. Figg Engineering's disingenuous claims about better design and materials aside, the noise of the significant truck and local traffic at grade (missing from the nice pictures) will be trapped and broadcast throughout the lower elevations of interior neighborhoods. Meanwhile, because of the topography of our area, those homes situated above U.S. 280 will have no protection from the elevated portion of the road.

The one kernel of truth in so much fluffy popcorn about the road's "benefits" was the candid admission by Alabama Department of Transportation engineer Brian Davis of what we all know: Historically, adding lanes is a short-term solution that does not work.

Letters, faxes, and e-mail

Sunday, January 28, 2007

If the elevated road proponents win and we spend an estimated $400 million to $700 million to build 10 miles of road, even according to DOT's most conservative estimates, the road will be obsolete within about 20 years of its construction. Meanwhile, we will have destroyed what makes our city beautiful and distinctive with the ugly urban leviathan of the elevated road.

Eva Dillard