A meeting on Thursday evening of area residents gathered for an event entitled “Save Birmingham from ALDOT’s plan for I-20/59 downtown” has launched an online effort to raise awareness about the current proposals being considered.
The group, calling themselves Rethink 20/59, has created a fan page on Facebook. They have also posted a link to a petition via Change.org directed at Birmingham mayor William Bell, the Birmingham City Council, the Jefferson County Commission and Alabama governor Robert Bentley asking them to “rethink the plan for Interstate 20/59″ through the city center. The city and county had asked ALDOT last July to reconsider its initial plan to simply re-deck the existing section, leading to the current proposal. The council already stated during their June 18 general business meeting that they intended to meet with ALDOT’s director when he is in town next week.
A second petition launched on June 19 on Causes.com and created by Stuart Oates entitled Save Downtown Birmingham. It currently has 22 virtual signatures.
This latest development among those speaking out against plans to replace the decking between 31st St. N. and Malfunction Junction and redirecting local traffic patterns is not without precedent in the country. While efforts are underway in Dallas, TX to influence the removal of Interstate 345, the campaign most closely resembling Birmingham’s in the southeastern United States is in Louisville, KY, where 8664 is using Facebook in its fight to remove the Interstate and reconnect a waterfront park to the city’s downtown area. There is also a continuing effort in Syracuse, NY to look at alternatives to widening a stretch of I-81 through the heart of downtown (and coming extremely close to existing buildings in the process).
Photo: 2009 Rendering from ONB Breakfast Briefing presentation.