U.S. 280 progress at a standstill

Published 4:13 pm Monday, January 30, 2012

“I wonder if U.S. 280 really is a priority for (local governments). Local governments aren’t clamoring all over themselves (about U.S. 280). Maybe that’s the old reporter in me coming out, but if it is that big a public priority, why not?” Harris asked.

“Poll each of the municipalities along U.S. 280. See where they stand,” Harris suggested. “They did not all support (the elevated toll road plan). Eventually, support for that plan waffled.”

Lots of studies, but no action

Chelsea Mayor Earl Niven said his community, as well as every other community in Shelby County located along U.S. 280, did support the elevated toll road plan.

“Those who have to travel 280 support the toll road. People in Mountain Brook, Homewood and Birmingham did not, but they don’t have to travel on 280,” Niven said.

When the plan for an elevated toll road was presented, former Gov. Bob Riley insisted that support from communities located along the roadway be unanimous.

“That’s not going to happen. You’re not going to get unanimous support for any plan from people in Birmingham because they aren’t the ones who travel U.S. 280,” he said.

Niven likens U.S. 280 to a parking lot.

“I’m concerned about safety. When I have a heart attack in Chelsea, it’s going to take me 30 minutes to an hour longer to get to the hospital because of 280,” he said. “I’m concerned about our parents who work in Birmingham. They can’t support their children, can’t coach them when they play little league, because it’s dark by the time they get home. They don’t get to have the family time we all want and desire.”

Niven said the elevated toll road plan would have been a good solution for all concerned.