Is commuter rail service coming to Shelby County?

Published 1:42 pm Tuesday, October 22, 2013

    ADECA is considering adding commuter rail service between Birmingham and Montgomery, according to Pelham Mayor Gary Waters. (Contributed)

ADECA is considering funding commuter rail service between Birmingham and Montgomery, according to Pelham Mayor Gary Waters. (Contributed)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is considering creating a commuter rail service linking Birmingham with Montgomery, and the service could include multiple stops in Shelby County, Pelham Mayor Gary Waters said on Oct. 22.

Following a meeting with Pelham’s business leaders at the Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena, Waters said he is preparing to present the proposed project during a meeting with several Shelby County mayors on Oct. 23.

The commuter rail plan is one of several ADECA is considering in Alabama. If approved, the rail service would feature three northbound and three southbound trains each day traveling between Birmingham and Montgomery.

The route would include stops in Birmingham, Hoover, Calera, Elmore County, Montgomery and an Alabaster-Pelham stop, Waters said.

If the plan is approved, municipalities along the route would be responsible for helping to fund the train stations.

“I think it would make sense to put it somewhere around the Alabaster-Pelham border. We’ve got to have a big, bright, wide-open parking area,” Waters said, noting the stop could be somewhere near the former Stacks building and current Staples store off U.S. 31. “That first train of the day would leave the Pelham-Alabaster stop at about 5:45 a.m., which would be perfect for commuters going to Birmingham.”

The Staples shopping center is near the rail proposed for commuter service. Waters said he is planning to meet with Alabaster Mayor Marty Handlon soon to discuss the possibility of funding the Alabaster-Pelham stop.

Because the commuter service project is one of several currently under consideration by ADECA, Waters said no timeline has been laid out for the project.

“It’s real exciting to talk about in concept, finally having a commuter service come to Pelham,” Waters said, noting commuter ticket prices could be about $4.25 per trip.

Other projects under ADECA consideration are re-establishing the Gulf Breeze rail line from Birmingham to Mobile, adding additional trains to current rail routes and a multi-billion-dollar proposal to add light rail service along the median of Interstate 65 south of Birmingham, Waters said.