ReThink280 Newsletter - June 2010
In this issue:
-- Figg Is Back at Work
-- Contact Shelby County Commissioners
-- Read Our Op-Ed Piece: Can ALDOT Listen on 280?
-- Sign the ReThink280 Petition

Welcome to the ReThink280 Newsletter! Look for this newsletter in your mailbox periodically to keep up with the latest news on Highway 280. Please feel free to forward this newsletter to anyone interested in this important issue.

Figg Is Back at Work
ALDOT has reactivated its contract with Figg Engineers to add express lanes and an elevated toll road to U.S. 280, despite significant citizen opposition and the fact that Birmingham, Homewood, Mountain Brook, and Vestavia Hills have all asked for a better solution. Each of these cities passed a resolution expressing concerns with ALDOT's plan and asking for greater regional collaboration in finding the right solution. The Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills resolutions also ask ALDOT to explore fixing the I-459/280 interchange before considering the rest of the corridor.

The battle is by no means over, and we need to keep the pressure on now more than ever. Send your letters and emails opposing the elevated/toll road to: Brian Davis, Division Engineer (, ALDOT Third Division, 1020 Bankhead Highway, Birmingham, AL 35202; Joe McInness, Director (, ALDOT, 1409 Coliseum Blvd., Montgomery, AL 36110; and Linda Figg, Figg Engineers (, 424 North Calhoun Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301. Demand a more sustainable and fiscally responsible solution that does not promote sprawl or harm the commercial or residential interests that are along the corridor.
Read the Birmingham News article...

Contact Shelby County Commissioners
Shelby County Commissioners will be voting soon on whether to support ALDOT's elevated/toll road proposal or not, possibly as soon as Monday, June 14, 2010. It is time for Shelby County residents and business owners to make their opinions known. We can do better than an elevated highway!

Shelby County Commissioners: Corley Ellis (205) 669-1863; Tommy Edwards (205) 427-4289; Jon Parker (205) 668-3632,; Daniel M. Acker (205) 663-7334; Joel Bearden (205) 296-2967; Larry Dillard (205) 988-0658; Lindsey Allison (205) 991-6367; Rick Shepherd (205) 982-8717,; Robbie Hayes (205) 678-7100.
Find the article on our website...

Read Our Op-Ed Piece: Can ALDOT Listen on 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 Marc Beaumont and Temple Tutwiler's op-ed piece, ReThink280 challenges ALDOT to work with area cities, stakeholders, and the MPO/RPC for a sensible, sustainable solution for U.S. 280.

Read the Birmingham News op-ed article...

Sign the ReThink280 Petition
The ReThink280 website has a petition posted for you to sign and make comments. By signing this petition, you are registering your opposition to ALDOT's U.S. 280 Expansion Project, which calls for a 10-mile, 10-lane, $800 million elevated and ground-level toll road. Your submission, along with all those who sign this petition, will be sent to both government and community leaders to raise awareness of the widespread opposition to the proposed expanded roadway.

Sign the petition...

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.

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