Reviewed by: Pat Byington
Last week, Bham Now reported that the Red Mountain Cut Foundation had shared new renderings and videos about the Red Mountain Cut Trail—an exciting new project that aims to create a bicycle and pedestrian trail through the Cut.
Bham Now spoke with Bryson Stephens—Chairman of the Board at EBSCO Industries and founder of the Red Mountain Cut Foundation—to learn more about the project + how you can get involved.
A brief history of the Red Mountain Cut
In the 1960s, tons of dirt, clay, rock and more were blasted through Red Mountain to make way for the Red Mountain Expressway, an extension of Highway 31 and Highway 280 that connected to downtown Birmingham. The massive removal of earth revealed geologic strata dating back hundreds of millions of years.
Geologists from around the world were fascinated with the information that the Red Mountain Cut revealed about our region’s history. In 1978, the Red Mountain Museum was opened to house fossils and educate visitors about the Cut. In addition, visitors could walk along the Cut to see the geologic strata for themselves.
Unfortunately, the pathway was closed to the public after the Red Mountain Museum merged with another local museum to form McWane Science Center. Since then, the pathway has become overgrown—although the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) and a public/private partnership significantly cleaned up the Cut before The World Games 2022.
An exciting plan from the Red Mountain Cut Foundation
In 2022, Bryson Stephens—Chairman of the Board of EBSCO Industries—founded the non-profit Red Mountain Cut Foundation to promote the restoration of the path as an attraction and resource for Birmingham.
“Back in the 1970s and 1980s, the Red Mountain Cut was an asset. With the Red Mountain Museum and the pathway, people could go for a walk, take in the views and learn about the geology and history of the region. Although this asset has fallen into disrepair over the years, it has great bones and could be remade into an asset for the city of Birmingham.”Bryson Stephens, Founder, Red Mountain Cut Foundation
As part of the restoration of the path, the Red Mountain Cut Foundation plans to construct a bicycle and pedestrian trail through the Cut. Although there are multiple trails running parallel to Red Mountain, there are currently no connections across it.
“Red Mountain is a massive physical hurdle, and getting across it isn’t easy—especially in an ADA accessible way. A trail along the Red Mountain Cut is not only the most feasible way to cross the mountain on foot, but it’s in a highly visible space that is going to be hard to miss. If we can build it, I think a trail along the Cut will be an asset that can send a message to the world that we take pride in our city.”Bryson Stephens, Founder, Red Mountain Cut Foundation
Once complete, the trail would be part of the ever-growing Red Rock Trail System and connect the following areas for walking, running and biking:
- The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) campus
- 5 Points South
- Highland Avenue
- English Village
- The Birmingham Botanical Gardens
- The Birmingham Zoo
- Downtown Homewood
- Vulcan Park
In addition to the trail through the Cut, the Red Mountain Cut Foundation plans to support bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly improvements on 21st Avenue South and 22nd Street South. Known colloquially as ‘Diaper Row’, 21st Avenue South runs from English Village to Vulcan Park.
“We have been working to improve pedestrian safety and access along 21st Avenue South for a several years. The street has no bike lanes, no crosswalks, no sidewalks or any traffic-calming measures. Everyone I have spoken to recognizes that street needs to be made safe for bikers and pedestrians, and we have received a lot of support from the city of Birmingham. I’m very optimistic that we’re going to get some traction on that development soon.”Bryson Stephens, Founder, Red Mountain Cut Foundation
3 ways to get involved with the Red Mountain Cut Foundation
According to Mr. Stephens, the Red Mountain Cut Foundation will be seeking funding from a variety of sources—both private and public—to make the development possible.
“As you can imagine, a project like this is not inexpensive. For a project of this size, you generally can’t rely on a single source of funding. To me, seeking multiple sources of funding is not only pragmatic, but feels right to have broad support for an asset that will be enjoyed by residents of Birmingham, Mountain Brook, Homewood, Vestavia, Gardendale, Bessemer and beyond. Give the fact that these public assets are enjoyed by many, I think they should be supported by many.”Bryson Stephens, Founder, Red Mountain Cut Foundation
Want to get involved with the Red Mountain Cut Foundation? Here are three ways you can make a difference.
- Connect with the Red Mountain Cut Foundation — Submit your email address to their website to stay in the loop on updates and volunteer opportunities.
- Participate in highway cleanups on the Cut — The Red Mountain Cut Foundation has partnered with ALDOT to adopt a two mile stretch along the cut. Be on the lookout for volunteer opportunities with upcoming cleanups!
- Support financially — As the Red Mountain Cut Foundation’s project moves forward, there will be opportunities for individuals and organizations to support the project financially.
Which part of the Red Mountain Cut Trail would you be most excited to use? Tag us @bhamnow to let us know!