Traffic congestion soon to clear?

Published 3:03 pm Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Traffic studies are currently being conducted on Highway 280 that have at least the potential to usher in something many Shelby Countians have long waited for: A plan to fix the congestion on Highway 280.

Officials from the Alabama Department of Transportation are overseeing traffic studies that should be concluded by mid-summer. Those studies are focused on determining the feasibility of constructing a toll road above Highway 280, giving drivers an alternative to the traffic-snarled road below.

Gov. Bob Riley and members of the Shelby County legislative delegation, along with municipal leadership and business groups, have pressed for some solution to the congestion on Highway 280 for years. It appears their years of hard work and frustration may soon pay off.

But how on earth do you build an elevated toll road on one of Shelby County’s busiest thoroughfares without creating complete gridlock?

Figg Engineering Group has the answer. Build the road supports and the road itself at a staging area, then transport them to Highway 280 to be set in place with little traffic disruption. Amazing, I know.

Once the traffic studies are concluded, ALDOT officials will have what they need to decide if the toll road project can move forward. Let’s hope they see things favorably.

Funding road construction even in the best of times is a difficult undertaking and much more difficult in economic times like these. Private funding of a toll road over Highway 280, as has been done in several states, may very well be the best route for funding construction of this much-needed solution in a time of tightening budgets at home and in Montgomery.

There are 5,244 miles of toll roads in America. Here’s hoping we see a few more rising above Highway 280 in the not too distant future.