The Alabama Road Builder - Fall 2015 - (Page 17)

feature Moving Forward with the Northern Beltline By Renee Carter Executive Director, Birmingham Coalition for Regional Transportation. Birmingham Coalition for Regional Transportation I n early 2014, the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) broke ground on the Northern Beltline, a 52.5 mile interstate that runs through Jefferson County, Alabama. The Northern Beltline project is part of the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) of the Appalachian Regional Commission, a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state and local governments. The ADHS includes more than 3,000 miles of roadway, with projects in 13 states. Birmingham is one of the few cities in the U.S., and the only major city in the Southeast, that does not have a complete, connected interstate route to serve its metropolitan area. The Northern Beltline will generate economic development, reduce commute times and improve quality of life for the Birmingham region and the entire state of Alabama. Before ALDOT was able to break ground on the Northern Beltline, it first had to secure a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers The Alabama Roadbuilder * Fall 2015 (USACE) 404 permit. As part of the permitting process, ALDOT worked to meet four major environmental conditions required for the permit, which ensure the protections of the environment at each stage of construction. Prior to approving a permit, USACE closely analyzes permit applications to ensure the reasonably anticipated benefits and detriments of proposed projects are balanced. Throughout the process, it considers the critical values of the U.S. aquatic ecosystems to the public and the reasonable use of private property, infrastructure development and growth of the economy. In addition, the USACE takes into account the opinions of other federal, state and local agencies as well as those of interest groups and the general public. On October 1, 2013, Governor Robert Bentley announced that the USACE had issued the requested permit. During the months leading up to the issuance of the permit, ALDOT answered numerous questions, provided additional data and made adjustments to the final design of the Northern Beltline where needed. Upon completion of its rigorous and thorough analysis, the USACE determined the project both met, and in some cases exceeded, all requirements of the federal Clean Water Act. As a result, the USACE granted ALDOT the permit to begin construction on the first phase of the Northern Beltline. After the permit was granted, opponents to the project sought to stop construction of the Beltline by filing a preliminary injunction. After reviewing the proposed injunction, the U.S. District Court Judge denied the injunction request and, in his 19-page Opinion and Order, declared every allegation made by the opposition invalid. Following the ruling, construction on the Northern Beltline moved forward. To celebrate the beginning of construction on the Northern Beltline, the Coalition for Regional Transportation held a "Groundbreaking Ceremony" with Governor Robert Bentley, Congressman Spencer Bachus and numerous local elected leaders who have strongly supported the Northern Beltline since its inception. In total, nearly 300 committed Northern Beltline stakeholders attended the groundbreaking ceremony and expressed a unified voice of support for the project. Today, construction of the Northern Beltline is moving forward at a prompt pace. Specifically, construction will take place in a series of projects, each of which work to responsibly meet the requirements of the USACE 404 permit. ALDOT is currently working on the first "grade and drain" project for the Northern Beltline. As the most innovative project involving storm water control and environmental management ALDOT has let to date, this project requires 2.5 million yards of rock and dirt and waste material to be moved. Today, 55 percent of the "grade and drain" project is complete, and ALDOT expects this phase of construction to reach completion in the fall of 2016. As construction progresses, the Northern Beltline continues to garner support from government stakeholders, municipalities and other key decision makers as the next key step in Birmingham's surface transportation system. ❏ 17

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Alabama Road Builder - Fall 2015

Executive Director's Message
President's Message
ARBA Convention 2015 Highlights
The Costs of Sound Safety Performance
Senate Passes Long-Term Transportation Bill
Moving Forward With the Northern Beltline
Products and Services Marketplace
Index to Advertiers/
Heard Along the Highway

The Alabama Road Builder - Fall 2015