Toll roads best solution for U.S. 280

Published 9:56 am Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What can be done to fix traffic congestion on U.S. 280?

That’s a question local folks have been asking themselves for almost as long as Lloyd’s and Perrin’s have existed. Officials from the Alabama Department of Transportation have been working hard for months to find an answer to that perplexing question.

ALDOT officials have conducted traffic studies, with help from Figg Engineering. Their collective work tells us two things: First, there is no perfect solution for U.S. 280, and second, an elevated toll road is the best solution for giving area drivers an alternative to the infamously traffic-snarled road.

So what other options have been considered in the couple of decades people have been trying to find a solution to gridlock on U.S. 280?

Here are a few. Alabamians have proven time and again they will not use public transportation. Creation of access roads are cost-prohibitive and would consume valuable real estate and parking space. A loop around the U.S. 280 corridor has been discussed and quickly passed by due to logistical and cost concerns.

I’m neither a traffic engineer nor an urban planner, but the logic behind the elevated toll road makes good sense to me. Give a significantly easier drive to those willing to pitch in money to help pay for the solution.

A handful of merchants located along U.S. 280 have expressed concerns about what the elevated road might do to the traffic patterns. They are smart to ask.

But the cost to those merchants of doing nothing far outweighs the cost of changing traffic patterns.

An elevated toll road is the right solution for U.S. 280, those for who travel it and for the county as a whole.

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