Birmingham business group endorses 280 toll road plan

The Birmingham Business Alliance today issued a statement supporting the elevated toll road project, proposed to ease U.S. 280 congestion.

The group is urging businesses and employees to communicate their support for the project to Alabama Gov. Bob Riley and to the mayors whose cities border the U.S. 280 corridor.

The executive committee of the Birmingham Business Alliance released the statement in favor of the project.

“The BBA leadership recognizes the powerful economic development realities of the Highway 280 project — a ‘shovel-ready’ $750 million solution to 30 years of traffic tie-ups in what has become Alabama’s fastest-growing economic corridor,” the press release read.

“Governor Riley needs to hear from Birmingham that it is time for this plan to move forward,” said Dowd Ritter, CEO of Regions Financial Corp. and BBA board chairman. “I’m asking citizens who support the project to let the Mayors and the Governor know how they feel.”

Johnny Johns, CEO of Protective Life Insurance, who is on the BBA’s executive committee, said this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve the Birmingham region’s quality of life.

“This self-funded traffic solution is the product of a very long and thorough process. It will not only dramatically help traffic flow, but will do so in a way that will lower noise, promote safety, improve air quality, facilitate mass transit planning, promote economic development and help local retailers up and down the 280 corridor,” Johns said.

A small group of U.S. 280 business owners have joined Mountain Brook and Homewood groups in opposing the plan and are countering with efforts to kill the elevated toll road project. Those business owners say the elevated toll road would destroy their businesses and others along the 280 corridor.

Neither Ritter nor Johns was available for further comment today.