County Commission to hear both sides of elevated lanes debate

The Shelby County Commission will soon hear two different sides of the debate on the Alabama Department of Transportation’s plan for elevated lanes on U.S. 280.

Representatives from ALDOT and Rethink 280, a grassroots group dedicated to stopping the elevated lanes plan, will have presentations at a County Commission work session at 5 p.m. June 28.

Rethink 280 has proposed a plan of their own, which group members say would cost between $287 million-$459 million — far less than the $800 million price tag for ALDOT’s elevated lanes plan.

If constructed, the elevated lanes project would add four limited-access tolled express lanes over the existing six travel lanes from Eagle Point Parkway to Interstate 459 on U.S. 280.

As proposed, the project would also add ground-level express lanes on U.S. 280 westward from Interstate 459 to the Red Mountain Expressway in Birmingham, and would rework the U.S. 280/Interstate 459 interchange.

In other business, the commission:

— Heard Ray Hamilton, manager of the county Department of Development Services, announce County Chief Electrical Inspector Donny Cook as a new member of the board of directors for the National Fire Protection Association.

Hamilton said he believes the appointment to be a huge honor because Cook, a Thompson High School graduate, is blazing a new trail.

“I suspect, ladies and gentlemen, that Donny Cook is probably the first Alabamian to be on the board of the NFPA,” Hamilton said.

After Hamilton’s announcement, the commission and audience gave Cook a standing ovation.

— Announced Jeffrey Edwards as the new emergency management supervisor with Shelby County Environmental Services.