County plans for park-and-ride lot

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

Shelby County commuters could soon have a money-saving way to travel to work.

Plans are being finalized for a park-and-ride lot next to the Shelby County Airport, according to Ray Hamilton, manager of the county Department of Development Services.

The park-and-ride lot, which has been in the works for nearly a decade and will be constructed on land the county already owns, will cost around $650,000 to construct. Federal highway dollars will pay for 80 percent of the project, and the county will pay for 20 percent, Hamilton said.

The county’s share of the cost will come out of the its general fund, Hamilton said.

Planning Services Supervisor David Hunke said engineering firm Gresham, Smith and Partners is coordinating the project with the Alabama Department of Transportation. After ALDOT approves the project, the Federal Highway Administration must also approve the project.

“Hopefully we’ll have the approval by July 1,” Hamilton said.

Hunke said after the project gains the necessary approval, it is typically a few months before ground is broken.

The lot will hold around 130 parking spaces. The county is looking into working with Alabama Power to equip some spaces to charge electric cars, Hunke said.

“We had positive feedback from Alabama Power representatives,” he said.

Those using the lot would be able to set up carpools or vanpools through CommuteSmart Birmingham.

“This is a way to get people to park at this location and get eight people in a CommuteSmart van and drive to Birmingham or Montgomery, instead of eight cars driving,” Hamilton said.

The county has also explored the idea of high occupancy vehicle lanes on Interstate 65, Hamilton said.