The Alabama Road Builder - Fall 2015 - (Page 17)
Moving Forward with the
By Renee Carter
Executive Director, Birmingham Coalition
for Regional Transportation. Birmingham
Coalition for Regional Transportation
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.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Alabama Road Builder - Fall 2015
Executive Director'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/Advertisers.com
Heard Along the Highway
The Alabama Road Builder - Fall 2015