The preliminary agenda for the January 20 Birmingham City Council meeting included an item that has the potential to impact the city’s Southside. A portion of the nine mile stretch of road officially known as State Route 149 was the central focus of Item 7, submitted for and approved as part of the consent agenda on Tuesday morning. Specifically, it involved the portion of the nine-mile stretch of road once known as Alt. U.S. 31 — one that made getting around Red Mountain a little easier before the completion of the Red Mountain Expressway. The item called for approving an “Agreement, Resolution and Quit Claim Deed with the State of Alabama, acting by and through the Alabama Department of Transportation for the Transfer of Finley Boulevard from US-78 to US-31 to the State of Alabama and the Transfer of SR-149 within the City limits of Birmingham to the City.” This is a big deal on both ends of the deal.
Finley Boulevard is a major thoroughfare for the city, especially with regards to its ability to serve as a hub for the transportation of goods. A portion of the road runs parallel to Finley Avenue, home to several popular destinations in the city including Niki’s West and the Birmingham Farmers Market. It will eventually serve as the terminus to a project preparing to get underway to its east, the Maxine Herring Parker Bridge — the pedestrian/vehicular bridge project the former council president was working on before she passed away in November 2013. If you’re wondering about the status of that project — one focused on making accessing Collegeville safer and easier — the request for proposals for construction are due into ALDOT by 10 a.m., January 30.
Returning the focus to State Route 149, it provides the opportunity for the city to make additional improvements and changes to the portion of the road called University Boulevard — the portion that runs through the middle of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s campus on the Southside. UAB has recently constructed monument signs along University Boulevard at Richard Arrington, Jr. Blvd. (one, eastbound side) and at 13th Street (two), essentially announcing the eastern and western boundaries for the urban campus.
The other major story from yesterday’s meeting involved the approval of a zoning variance for the Salvation Army, allowing it to proceed with plans to convert Lewis Elementary School and some of the surrounding area into apartments, a homeless prevention center, and a church (Item 1). This approval comes a little more than four years after a similar proposal to be placed along 12th Avenue North in Norwood was voted down by the neighborhood, 52-0. As Alabama’s 13 reported yesterday, Norwood Elementary is currently being renovated with plans to reopen, allowing students from Lewis to move there.
The Birmingham City Council’s recap is available via PDF on their website.