Gridlock needs solutions

In the past 10 years, Shelby County has grown by leaps and bounds — 36 percent, to be exact. The county now sits just under 200,000 residents, making Shelby County Alabama’s fifth-largest county — and the fastest-growing by far.

With Jefferson County actually seeing a small population decline and Hoover’s high growth percentage, Shelby County’s growth shows no signs of stopping.

In another 10 years, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Shelby County take over Montgomery County’s spot as the fourth-largest county in Alabama, especially with Montgomery only roughly 34,000 residents ahead of Shelby right now.

That speedy growth is why we need to support plans to help solve nagging problems related to the population boom, such as the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham’s plans to bring high-occupancy vehicle lanes and a bus transit system to northern and central Shelby County. The HOV lanes would be on Interstate 65 from the Valleydale Road exit in Pelham to the University Boulevard exit in downtown Birmingham. These lanes would help to address the congestion problem on I-65, which will only get worse if no action is taken as more people move to Shelby County.

The Planning Commission is also looking into a bus transit system, which would connect Shelby County’s high-density areas, such as Alabaster, Pelham and Hoover, to other parts of the Birmingham metro area. We support the Planning Commission’s proposals and its search for funding solutions for the projects. With gas prices again rising close to $3.50, the timing is perfect to begin thinking ahead and finding creative solutions to the gridlock on our most-traveled roads.

The We Say is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.