Elevated lane project a terrible idea

Published 10:34 am Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dear Editor,

Your recent editorial encouraging completion of an elevated 280 toll road deserves comment. If you think that another massive road building project will solve automobile gridlock, then you should visit any major urban area in the United States during business hours where this has already been tried.

Shelby County and Jefferson County have suffered from being out of compliance with ground-level ozone layers for many years. 45 percent of the ozone precursor, nitrous oxide, comes from automobiles, trucks and buses. Another massive road building project will only accentuate this problem, and cause further economic damage to both Jefferson County and Shelby County because of lack of ozone ground-level attainment. This will be particularly true with new lower EPA guidelines that go into effect this year.

Shelby County and Jefferson County have already lost a reported $2 billion in investments and 20,000 jobs because of being out of attainment.

High-speed rail is a long-term solution for urban congestion, relieves traffic congestions, accelerates economic development along its corridor and has minimal, if any, impact on accelerating ground-level ozone levels. People will ride the elevated light rail when gridlock forces them to do so or $5-a-gallon gasoline demands that they do so.

More massive road building urban projects are a 1970s idea. ALDOT unfortunately does not even have a mass transit division. The noise and light pollution of an elevated expressway through Bluff Park, Mountain Brook and Homewood would degrade those desirable residential communities forever. I would urge that instead of an elevated toll road, that a high-speed elevated rail be planned for permanent, long-term transportation needs in this corridor.

Rip Pfeiffer, M.D.