Traffic congestion, poor roads, safety and lack of public transit top Birmingham regional concerns about transportation

Birmingham Malfunction Junction
Birmingham
Participants at the Draft Regional Bicycle Network Open House, photo by Pat Byington

Earlier this week, the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham (RPCGB) released their findings from a region-wide survey about transportation needs. Traffic congestion, poor roads, safety and lack of public transit topped the list of concerns.

As part of the 2045 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), from April to July of 2018, the RPCGB conducted an aggressive outreach campaign to ask the public what our biggest transportation problems are, and how we should address them. The RPCGB received over 2,500 survey responses from over 90% of the 95 ZIP codes that make up the region.

Birmingham Malfunction Junction
Rendering of Malfunction Junction in Birmingham after ALDOT completes its bridge project. Graphic by ALDOT

Here are the results based on three questions posed to the public.

What are the biggest transportation problems facing the region today?

Traffic congestion – 48%
Poor pavement conditions – 32%
Safety – 28%
Lack of public transit options – 27%
Air Quality – 19%
Rising transportation costs – 16%
Lack of walking infrastructure – 15%
Lack of bicycle infrastructure – 13%

How should we spend transportation dollars to address these problems?

Preferred investments

Capacity expansion – 46%
Maintenance – 40%
Public Transit – 37%
Safety projects – 33%
Walking infrastructure – 17%
Bicycle infrastructure – 17%

Should we increase the state gas tax to fund these improvements?

40% support a gas tax increase to provide additional funding for transportation projects.

Homewood Alabama
Picture of the Hwy 280 overpass bridge between Mountain Brook and Homewood. Note how the car passing the cyclist having to move across the center line to safely pass – photo by Pat Byington

“We are excited by the extensive public feedback for such a crucial component of our region’s long-term success – a safe, efficient and equitable transportation network. To the continuing resurgence of our regional economy, we hope the RTP will contribute a reflection of the public vision for where and how we choose to move around,” statement from the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham to Bham Now.

The survey will be used to help guide the update and  implementation of the  2045 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) which identifies needed transportation improvements throughout the metropolitan area over the next 20 years. It lays out the region’s transportation goals and project priorities while considering the reality of future funding availability.

The Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham (RPCGB) is tasked with updating this federally-required document every five years in order to identify which roadway, transit, bicycle, pedestrian and other projects are most needed through 2045.

Birmingham
Downtown Birmingham. Photo via Jacob Blankenship.

According to the RPCGB, now that the public has provided their priorities, they will spend the fall drafting the RTP document. They will also start  identifying which projects the community can afford in the coming 20 years.

RPCGB will invite the public to give feedback on the draft plan in February and March of 2019 before it is completed that following summer.

 

Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.