Come on ALDOT, I know you can do better than what you have proposed for the I-20 / I-59 downtown Birmingham bridge replacements. On Wednesday, several Birmingham City Council members met with ALDOT at their headquarters in Birmingham. Normally, meetings of government officials can be covered by the public and the media. But, that did not happen. Remember, we are talking about ALDOT here. Some city council members even allowed the media to come inside, but officials from ALDOT kicked the media right back out citing an exception under the Alabama Open Meetings Act. Two state troopers even had to guard the entrance. What was ALDOT trying to hide from the public this time?
ALDOT has had its history of getting want they want, no matter how many people are against a certain plan. Remember the controversy over US 280 and how citizens and the cities of Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills complained? Well it did not matter, ALDOT got their way. ALDOT has repeatedly shown a reckless disregard for the public’s safety and a waste of taxpayer money in many projects across Alabama. That’s why they hate this blog and the writer Nathan Young. Geek Alabama does a weekly post called Roadscapes Wednesday which goes around and profiles infrastructure. And each week I can’t help it by bashing another crazy decision from ALDOT.
ALDOT has wasted millions of dollars on projects all across Alabama. And I am afraid they will waste even more money and time with this project. The project would cost around $300 million and would replace the bridges on I-20 / I-59 through downtown Birmingham. The highway would be 10 lanes wide and all exits between the Red Mountain Expressway and Interstate 65 would be eliminated. Instead of having downtown exits, 11th Avenue North would be used to connect to downtown Birmingham. Imagine having a 10-lane highway cut across through downtown and the BJCC.
The exit at 31st Street would see the entrance and exit ramps eliminated heading towards downtown Birmingham. Instead, anyone wanting to excess 31st Street would have to go onto 11th Avenue North. Keep in mind, the Norwood Business District has around 300 businesses that collectively employ 1,500 to 2,000 people. Some businesses have been in this area since the early 20th Century. So does ALDOT want to force many businesses in the Norwood Business District to move elsewhere and layoff people, I hope not.
So, why can’t ALDOT talk to groups supporting alternatives to the current plans. Rethink 20/59 and I Believe In Birmingham on Facebook are supporting plans that would either sink I-20 / I-59 below grade or move the highway away from the BJCC. More and more cities across the world are either tearing down freeways or burying them to revitalize downtown. If ALDOT goes on with this plan, Birmingham will become a laughing-stock while other cities are moving forward. I wish ALDOT would listen to the majority of people who are wanting these current plans changed dramatically.
We should be uniting Birmingham and making downtown an inviting place for anyone to come. Not divide the entertainment district and downtown with a 10 lane eyesore. But who cares, this is ALDOT. ALDOT does what they want to do, just like a mob boss.
Visit Rethink 20/59 on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Rethink2059
Sign a petition to stop the current plans at: https://www.change.org/petitions/mayor-bell-city-council-jeffco-commission-and-gov-bentley-please-rethink-the-plan-for-interstate-20-59-through-birmingham
- You want to do what? Birmingham City Council talking to ALDOT about I-20/59 downtown plans (al.com)
- First Salvo (livablebham.wordpress.com)
- ALDOT, Birmingham City Council meet about I-20/59 behind closed doors, cite Alabama Open Meetings exception (al.com)
- Roadscapes Wednesday: Birmingham Slotted Freeway Signs (geekalabama.com)
- Roadscapes Wednesday: ALDOT and the Road Funding Problem (geekalabama.com)
- Roadscapes Wednesday: The I-459 Grooved Pavement Experience (geekalabama.com)