Express Yourself

NBC-13 wants to know what we think about an elevated Highway 280. Actually, the poll question is, “Will an elevated highway solve the 280 traffic problem?”

I think a world of no. Thought so before, but rapidly increasing gas prices make the idea of encouraging more development further from the city center even worse. And adding capacity will encourage development, likely to the point that traffic will actually be worse by the time the project is completed. Just think of it — even more SUVs sitting bumper-to-bumper spewing emissions into our already out of compliance air.

Click here to vote in the poll.

h/t Blues reader Peggy

9 Responses to “Express Yourself”

  1. I am so awful…. I just have no sympathy for Highway 280 commuters. They knew when they bought a house in Chelsea what the traffic was like. It might take a long time to get home, but everyone does get home eventually.

    The other problem on 280 is rampant lack of planning. It’s impossible to retrofit that.

  2. Tom Hilton says:

    How feasible would better mass transit be, and how much support do you think it could get?

  3. Kathy says:

    Tom, funny you should mention that. After I posted this, I heard a story on NPR about how the residents of Los Angeles, Boston, and Miami are adjusting to higher gas prices. All three cities are seeing huge increases in the use of mass transit (although, IIRC, Miami city officials have reacted by cutting 16 bus routes).

    I’d love to use mass transit, but it’s not an option. Birmingham is a city unto itself surrounded by a bunch of smaller cities, and all of them have their own separate governments and agendas. Add to that our ridiculous state constitution, which cedes most local control to the state legislature, and in fact hands it over to the Jefferson County delegation. The Jeffco delegation splits on this issue by party (and race) lines. That lack of agreement left over $80 million of federal matching funds on the table that became unavailable when the Dems took control of the US Senate and Richard Shelby lost his committee chairmanship.

    Our mass transit consists of an inadequate and unreliable bus system and a few trolleys that run on fixed routes in the city. No light rail; no park-and-rides, just a few very congested routes into and out of the city center. While intercity cooperation was lacking before, it now appears to be non-existent. The new mayor of Birmingham is a blowhard who has made it clear he intends to set his own course. And we have a tendency to worship our cars and the “personal freedom” they supposedly bring.

    So — the short answer is not very and not much. Sorry for the rant. :)

  4. Del says:

    I don’t know how many times we will have to be told that study after study shows that traffic invariably rises to fill any new highway. Maybe it’s just too counter-intuitive for us to accept.

  5. ShavenYak says:

    I live in Eagle Point, right at the southeast end of the proposed elevated highway. I drive 280 quite a bit, and it’s really not as bad as it’s made out to be. I’d much rather deal with this than with I-65 from Alabaster where we used to live – at least on 280 you can usually find an alternate route if things get backed up.

    If the money to build an elevated freeway could instead be spent revitalizing some of the neighborhoods closer to downtown, that would make a lot more sense. It would reduce traffic and fuel consumption at the same time. It might take several years to move enough people to make a difference, but it’ll take at least ten years to build anything over 280, and can you imagine what a mess the construction project will cause?

  6. Kathy says:

    …it’ll take at least ten years to build anything over 280, and can you imagine what a mess the construction project will cause?

    SY, I wonder how many of the people who drive 280 and support the elevated highway have thought about this. Unless it’s totally different from every road construction project that has come before, it will take longer than expected and be a huge disruption to existing traffic. And ten years will give developers plenty of time to sell their new projects to local officials.

    I like the idea of using the money to revitalize neighborhoods closer to downtown, as long as the revitalization doesn’t turn into gentrification that gets rid of affordable housing (a la Homewood).

    I’m curious — do you have to drive downtown every day? And if so, would you use a park-and-ride bus service (assuming it was reliable and reasonably clean) if you had that option? My first choice of alternative plans for the money would be decent public transportation, but I wonder how many people would use it.

  7. Sansou says:

    “My first choice of alternative plans for the money would be decent public transportation, but I wonder how many people would use it.”

    I wonder, too, but I’d be all over mass transit if it were available in my neighborhood. When we first moved to town, my husband and I had one car and different work (and school) schedules, so I took the bus several times a week. Loved it!! That was years and years ago, though, when the schedules were reliable. I knew if I missed the 5:15 bus, I could catch the 5:30 bus. And not having to drive was such a treat.

    Yeah, I’d sooo much rather have mass transit than an uberexpensive 5-mile-stretch of sure-to-be-obsolete-in 10-years mass of river-killing concrete to facilitate yet more sprawl. But I don’t have enough money to influence anybody in Montgomery, so I guess my 2 cents doesn’t count.

  8. Kathy says:

    Yeah, I’d sooo much rather have mass transit than an uberexpensive 5-mile-stretch of sure-to-be-obsolete-in 10-years mass of river-killing concrete to facilitate yet more sprawl. But I don’t have enough money to influence anybody in Montgomery, so I guess my 2 cents doesn’t count.

    Ditto! And given the legislature’s refusal to acknowledge widespread support across the state for constitutional reform, I’m not sure it would do much good for all of us individuals to band together.

    *sigh*

  9. Kiki says:

    280 is just not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. It isn’t that busy a stretch of road compared to most highways in LA and even Atlanta. I grew up pretty close to the LIE (that would be Long Island Expressway to those of you who have never visited LI, NY) and practically every road in these truly large cities is busy all day and night–yes, traffic reports at 2 am! And LI has a very extensive railroad system as well (the LIRR) and the LIE is still a virtual parking lot at 5 every day. So, I just wish people would complain about something more meaningful…like our education system here in the state.

    I’m with Del–make it bigger and they will come to clog!

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