Elevated road no solution for U.S. 280

Published 11:37 am Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dear Editor,

I strongly disagree with your editorial position on the elevated Highway 280 issue. First, let me quote to you a message about it that I just received from a friend who had just seen it:

“Oh, geez. Shelby County Reporter still pushing for the elevated 280. When they say the plan was ‘embraced by municipalities along U.S. 280,’ they are wording it carefully. Yes, city councils in Shelby County passed resolutions in support of the elevated road, but not with public support. Those of us who attended the June 2010 Shelby County Commission meeting saw an overflow crowd who were overwhelmingly opposed to the elevated road. I don’t recall that any more than 4 people spoke in favor of the elevated road, and they included the BBA (Birmingham Business Alliance) and ALDOT folk.

“Also, some of us attended multiple public presentations on the elevated road. I attended six. And I saw strong opposition to the elevated at every one of those meetings. ALDOT admitted that the estimates climbed to $1.6 billion. Even a math feeb like me can calculate that a 16-mile project at $1.6 billion would be $100 million per mile. Which part of ‘unaffordable’ does the SCR not understand?”

The elevated highway simply is no longer an option. It would be prohibitively expensive, would only amount to adding a few more lanes that would just help for a only few short years and would serve to encourage more building on U.S. 280 south of Chelsea. There are other options that are actually viable, such as the over/under intersection approach suggested by the Rethink 280 group, the upgrading of Grants Mill Road and/or Caldwell Mill Road, and the addition of appropriate mass transit. The impact of an elevated highway — typical of those already being demolished in other cities around the country — would be devastating to the surrounding businesses and residential areas. It would be an impractical, outdated solution. I don’t know anyone who is in favor of it. We don’t want it!

James L. Talbert