Elevated U.S. 280 recommended: How to fund the project east of I-459 to be studied

Research into an elevated roadway project along U.S. 280 will be continued by the Alabama Department of Transportation, provided Gov. Bob Riley accepts the recommendation of the Progress 280 Task Force.

The 20-member task force last week voted to request further study on funding for elevated 280 lanes from I-459 to Double Oak Mountain. The state would fund the research, should the proposal get Riley&8217;s approval.

No action was taken on the plan for the west side of I-459, where the prospect of elevated lanes has met opposition from the cities of Homewood and Mountain Brook.

Shelby County Commissioner Larry Dillard, who has publicly called for action to relieve the county&8217;s growing traffic congestion, welcomed the move by the task force.

&8220;We all know something needs to be done,&8221; Dillard said. &8220;All we&8217;ve had up until now has been studies.&8221;

But even with continued support, the plan is likely years from any &8220;concrete&8221; results, Dillard said.

Many key details of the plan have yet to be determined, including an overall cost for the project, interchange locations and a way to merge elevated lanes at the I-459 junction.

&8220;The ball is in the court of [ALDOT] now,&8221; Dillard said.

The Progress 280 Task Force, made up of citizens, business leaders and elected officials, hired Figg Engineering Group to develop the initial proposal for the 35-foot high, four-lane elevated roadway