County commission should carefully consider traffic

Published 2:21 pm Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Later this month, the Shelby County Commission will listen to two sides of a very important and divisive issue, one that has long been on the minds of thousands of Shelby Contains and will impact our county and its citizens for decades to come: what can be done about traffic congestion on U.S. 280.

Representatives from ALDOT and Rethink 280 will present their suggestions to the commission as a means for providing this elected body further insight into U.S. 280’s legendary problems and suggestions for solving them. Rethink 280 plans to suggest a possible solution that might cost between $287-$459 million, while ALDOT’s elevated toll road solution could cost as much as $800 million. This is not a time to pinch pennies. We must study possible solutions and move forward with implementation of the best solution. Quickly.

Our county commission does not have authority to decide how limited ALDOT resources are to be invested to improve traffic on U.S. 280. but their voice, collective and as individually elected officials, carries a great deal of weight in the matter. I am glad the commission is deliberately studying possible solutions for U.S. 280, and I expect a consensus will follow.

Countless other solutions for U.S. 280 have been considered over the last couple of decades. Public transportation, creation of access roads, traffic loops, and the like have been considered, but none have been implemented nor unanimously approved by business owners, elected officials or citizens. To me, that’s where the rubber meets the road, as no solution that will be satisfactory to all concerned will be found.

I’m neither a traffic engineer nor urban planner, but the logic behind the elevated toll road makes good sense to me, and it seems to be the only partially self-funding solution. Those who are traffic engineers and planners with ALDOT and Figg Engineering (the group hired some time ago to help find a solution to U.S. 280) agree. That said, our county commission is wise to consider all solutions currently on the table before placing their stamp of approval on either option.