The Latest On 280

Just like I thought, the newest consultants have offered some great ideas for 280, proposing the use of interchanges instead of traffic signals and making better use of local access roads. The latter point, in my opinion, is worth emphasizing:

Sketches for that area show a network of local access streets that would connect Overton, Rocky Ridge and Green Valley roads under 280, letting drivers move between Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills without using the highway.

“It’s creating a local network, which frees up 280 to do other things, and even if 280 is congested, locals can still move around without getting stuck,” Lockwood said. Sidewalks along the local roads would provide more pedestrian access, he said.

Beyond the Cahaba River, U.S. 280 would be a six-lane boulevard with additional turn lanes, much as it is now. But there would be two extra lanes: a local access road to allow for more local traffic between businesses and a lane designated for buses or, in the future, light rail. Lockwood said the transit lanes are modeled after a plan his firm is working on for Charlotte.

One of my biggest complaints about roads in this country is that we constantly build big ol’ thoroughfares like 280, with the goal being rapid transportation between distant locations, but then let every town in between clog up the road with all the stop lights, stuf-marts, and developments they can build. Or else build an interstate but have it eliminate about ten different local roads in the process, meaning locals have to use the interstate for super short trips, and if the interstate gets clogged there is no alternate route. Between here and Tuscaloosa, for instance, there’s a stretch where you’re on four roads at once: I-20; I-59; US 11; AL 5. 

280 features both of these problems. It was built as a major thoroughfare, but is now main street for south JeffCo and north Shelby County. And there is no alternate route for most of it’s journey into B’ham.

Like I’ve said in the past, I have no sympathy for the people who live along 280 and get stuck in that parking lot; but I do have a lot of sympathy for people who are trying to use it for its intended purpose – moving rapidly from Auburn to B’ham, for instance – and who have to sit in the traffic caused by the unplanned, uncontrolled, ridiculous mess that it is now. Reconecting local roads and moving all the local shoppers and travelers off the highway seems like a great way to let the highway be what it was supposed to be.

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4 Comments on “The Latest On 280”

  1. Dan Says:

    I never really thought about it like that, wheeler, but you’re right. (I don’t often think about road engineering at all, actually). The worst thing about 280 is that you have to get on it to go from Wendy’s to the Shop a Snack 2 blocks away.

  2. Immigration Reform Now Says:

    I’m still in favor of the wall to keep the North Shelbies in their own country.

  3. Loretta Nall Says:

    I’ve become so disgusted trying to travel on 280 that I now take a 45 mile detour down HWY. 22 through Clanton and hit I-65 from there. It’s a much more scenic route, there aren’t cops every 15 ft., my blood pressure stays at a normal level and between where I get on 22 and where it ends in Clanton there are no stuf-marts of any kind, no developments and no red lights. There are lots of woods, the Coosa River and Harris Dam, pretty bridges and great rock formations.

    Damn…now everybody who reads this will know about my alternate!

  4. […] I was out, another consultant came forward with a different proposal for Highway 280.  Wheeler and I agree that this sounds much better than the elevated highway.  I like the idea of a parkway with […]

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