Solutions to traffic woes on the horizon

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in a car.

&8212; Elwyn Brooks White

If you have been holding your breath, waiting for some source of relief for Shelby County&8217;s traffic woes, get ready to exhale.

The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) has announced an expansion of Interstate 65, the state&8217;s largest interstate, which will add eight lanes to the road stretching from the Shelby County Airport exit in Calera to north of Birmingham near Gardendale. Work on the project is set to begin this summer.

If you are one of the brave souls that travel Interstate 65 daily (or one that ventures onto the road, white-knuckled as infrequently as possible) the news that your trips should become less heart wrenching is welcome. Frustrating commutes to and from work, all too frequent tragic accidents and the like make traveling Interstate 65 in our county not just a quality of life issue but one of safety as well.

Certainly, we know that the process of building or expanding anything typically creates inconveniences and, at least temporarily, can make matters worse. The expansion of Interstate 65 will be no different.

No plans are yet on the table for the addition of lanes to Interstate 65 through Calera and into Chilton County toward Montgomery and Prattville but you can bet that such is not too far down the road. Similarly, widely publicized consideration of what to do with traffic congestion along Highway 280 has yet to result in a solid plan of action but one can&8217;t be too far away; the need is too great and only getting greater with each new business and subdivision.

Thankfully, help is on the way for a major source of frustration in our county; many groups, from ALDOT to the Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce to members our legislative delegation have worked to correct some of our traffic problems. They deserve our thanks.

Expansion of Interstate 65 will not fix all of our county&8217;s traffic problems but it is a step in the right direction; one that we can all hope will be repeated on a regular basis