Federal Court Rules Against Black Warrior Riverkeeper Request for Preliminary Injunction to Block Construction of the Northern Beltline
BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA – This afternoon the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama Northern Division ruled against the Black Warrior Riverkeeper (BWR) in BWR’s request for a preliminary injunction to block the start of construction for the Northern Beltline.
The BWR had requested the injunction, claiming that the start of construction on a 1.8 mile segment of the Northern Beltline joining State Roads 79 and 75 violated the National Environmental Policy Act requirements and that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (CORPS) should have conducted an Environmental Impact Study for the entire 50.1 mile Northern Beltline project instead of only the first segment.
BWR sought the preliminary injunction against the Alabama Department of Transportation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Renee Carter, executive director of the Coalition for Regional Transportation, said, “This very strong order of the federal court reflects exactly what we have been saying about the need for the Northern Beltline for the past several years – that it is a necessary and justifiable transportation project that will tremendously benefit the people of this area. We are both very pleased and gratified by the court’s order.”Read more
Any problem that ensues on the interstate system in Birmingham today has a pretty good chance of rapidly deteriorating into major traffic jams. Because we don’t yet have the Northern Beltline, east-west travelers passing through Birmingham have little option but to use the I-20/59 corridor through downtown, vastly magnifying any traffic issues that occur.
John Cooper writes, in an Op-Ed for AL.COM:
Look at what happened when I-20 East was recently closed for rebuilding. During peak travel periods, traffic from downtown Birmingham to the interchange between I-20/59 and I-459 was gridlocked. I know this because I was stuck there with you. And, as we inched along together, I noticed the line in front of me was dominated by large trucks. Knowing how information travels quickly among truckers, I couldn’t help but wonder why they were in this situation. Why did they not go another route?
Again, the answer is simple: there is no other route.
With Alabama’s legislature finding ways to balance the state’s budget, projects like the Northern Beltline that invest in the region’s economic development and create opportunities are the obvious solution to moving Alabama forward.
Jay Reed writes:
Alabama’s commercial construction industry is a vital and significant component of the economy and impacts more than half of our state’s employment. A study recently conducted by the Associated Builders and Contractors of Alabama found that commercial construction and the industries that feed it stimulated $9.349 billion of business in our state, and generated 150,000 full-time jobs in 2010 alone.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said that the Northern Beltline will be the best-designed highway in Alabama, and that during construction, the most care will be taken to minimize environmental impacts.
Calling the project one of his campaign promises, Bentley made the remark during a Tuesday press conference at Gardendale Public Library announcing the state has secured the final necessary permit to begin building the first 1.3-mile segment of the highway.
The director of the Alabama Department of Transportation recently said that economic development projects have sent three counties to the top of the state’s $1 billion road and bridge program.
A chart compiled by AL.com showed that Cullman County, Madison County and Tuscaloosa County received more per capita than the other 20 largest counties under the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program.