U.S. 280 idea a nice early present

Published 11:20 am Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gov. Bob Riley likes the idea of toll lanes to help solve traffic woes on U.S. 280 and believes such a road should stretch from the Elton B. Stephens Expressway in Jefferson County to Eagle Point Parkway in Shelby County.

Engineers and most, if not all, elected officials along the proposed toll road agree with Governor Riley.

It’s that support from elected officials that is the biggest story now thanks to great effort by local leaders and engineers to find a solution that makes sense for most everyone involved.

As most will recall, talk of a toll road along U.S. 280 is nothing new; the idea has been tossed around as a possible solution for years but never gained much traction.

But the idea of elevating such a toll road from the center median of the existing road is an idea that began to take shape here many months ago.

Initially most envisioned an elevated toll road that would run from Double Oak Mountain in Shelby County to Red Mountain Expressway in Jefferson County.

Numerous idea sessions and focus groups, along with exhaustive planning and research, pointed in a different direction — one that suggested residents of the Jefferson County portion of the would-be toll road did not want an elevated road built.

The solution now being considered would elevate the toll road from Eagle Point Parkway to Interstate 459 with the remainder of the road traveling essentially at ground level to Elton B. Stephens Parkway.

Assuming continued research suggests this compromised solution is the right approach, construction could start by this time next year and could take two to three years. That’s an extremely short time for a road construction project to be started and completed.

That’s an early Christmas present we can all look forward to.