On this Roadscapes Wednesday, I am opening up the Geek Alabama mailbag! A person named Roman Selig e-mailed me about the horrible and disastrous US Highway 280! Roman wrote:
I consider the last “improvements” to Hwy. 280 as a band aid. I don’t think the traffic problems on 280 will be cured until something is done to eliminate the bottle neck at 280 and I-459. I know that a flyover was started but then stopped when talk of other improvements – elevated highway, etc. – began. That’s why there is a dysfunctional traffic arrangement for traffic exiting I-459. It’s too bad that none of those plans were implemented but I’m sure you know that there will never be consensus and the only way something like that will happen is if ALDOT just makes an executive decision. I realize that is probably impossible because of too many politicians being involved, which trumps engineering judgment.
So, that brings me to my question. Is a flyover at 280 and I-459 back on the table and if so, when would it be implemented? As I stated earlier, since the flyover had been started before (ROW’s had to be obtained, etc.) then I assume the only thing standing in the way is backing and funding. This is sorely needed and would be a big improvement to 280 traffic. When you consider the present cost to individuals and businesses that are caused by the problems with 280, it would seem that this project would be a top priority. ALDOT and the state might even get funding help just by asking. I know that I would contribute.
Yes, there has been talk about an US 280 flyover at the I-459 interchange. As of right now, there are two traffic signals governing the traffic coming off I-459 and getting on I-459. On one side, you will find an intersection with 11 red lights!
Back in 2014, several trees were taken down to plan building the flyover, but nothing has been done since then. The reason why nothing has been done is because of a lack of funding. From this story from WBRC, ALDOT says they need $50 million in funding to build one flyover from US 280 west to I-459 south. The flyover project could be years away, or might not happen at all. It all depends on politicians and road funding.
Now, to make you even less secure about a flyover ever being built. This story from the Anniston Star talks about how road funding will be the next big battle in the Alabama Legislature. And given how there are many of these so called “Tea Party no new taxes bozos” in the legislature. The future of the US 280 flyovers, or any other new roads in Alabama, looks very bleak!
But hey, you can say we have one of the worst road systems in Alabama! You can also say we have one of the worst and corrupt DOT’s in America! That’s Alabama for you. All I can say is enjoy sitting in the US 280 traffic for years to come, I hate saying that!