Category Archives: transportation

Area taxis become latest tool in efforts to fight crime

T.O.P. in BaltimoreThe next time you see one of the city’s Yellow Cabs rolling through Birmingham city streets, realize they might be doing a little more than just heading to their next fare. They’re probably helping keep your neighborhood safe.

The Birmingham News reported early Monday morning about the new Taxis on Patrol initiative underway courtesy of the city’s police department and Yellow Cab of Birmingham. It’s not the first civic-minded initiative undertaken by the company as it’s also coordinated a Safe Ride Home initiative popular during the holiday season in recent years.

A similar project started in Baltimore, MD in the 1970s. Recent success in Denver, CO has resulted in an increased amount of adoption across the country, including communities like Broward County, FL; Nassau County, NYSavannah, GA; and Toledo, OH.

While our local effort is based on the Citizens on Patrol initiative, the recent announcement could also be seen as part of a larger effort underway by the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Foundation (TLPF) to see a broader adoption of the Transportation On Patrol (TOP) educational program nationwide – one that’s been underway since last April.

Photo: Yellow Cab with T.O.P. badge in Baltimore, MD, April 2012.

A chance for college students to work at the airport this summer

new BHM concourse under constructionIf you head on over to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport the back way (maybe to grab some lunch at VJ’s on the Runway), you’ve probably been paying a lot more attention to the facility’s modernization project than most. Well, you and the folks that regularly line that one stretch of fencing along East Lake Boulevard to watch the planes take off and land…

This year’s Summer Internship Program at BHM is going to give a few lucky individuals a chance to probably know a little more about the project. It’ll give students currently enrolled in a college, community college, technical institute, or university who’s planning to return to class in the fall an opportunity to work on various projects at the state’s busiest airport.

Of course, you could always visit the website set up to chronicle the progress of phase one. That phase is scheduled to be completed this coming December. The entire $201 million project is slated to be finished in 2014.

Photo: BHM’s new concourse under construction from East Lake Boulevard.

This year, we bike FROM work!

Bike From Work 2012 RouteIt stands to reason that you’ll still have to bike TO work in order to participate in this year’s Bike from Work Day being organized by the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham (RPCGB) and the CommuteSmart initiative. It’s the ninth year that an event has been held though it’s the first time it’ll take place in the evening.

This year’s ride will once again start at the parking lot adjacent to the Young and Vann Building on 1st Ave. N. & 18th St. N. (home to both the RPCGB & CommuteSmart) but it will start at 5:30 p.m. If you want to take a closer look at this year’s route, click on the map to view the PDF or you can always download it from the page on CommuteSmart’s website that hosts additional information about the event.

It’s supposed to be a pretty comfortable day tomorrow (current forecast calls for a high of 77° and a low of 53° when we last checked – perfect cycling weather), so you may want to consider taking part if at all possible.

Time to stop thinking about texting while driving in Alabama

No-Texting-While-Driving-Bill-SigningThose of you tempted to send texts to folks while you’re stuck in traffic on Red Mountain Expressway this evening (or even worse, if you’re speeding along on your way home) need to start thinking again. It’s probably time to start breaking yourself of the habit since it’s about to get a little pricey to do so throughout the state.

Early Tuesday afternoon the Alabama legislature passed a bill that bans drivers from using a wireless device to writing, sending, or reading text messages, e-mails, or instant messages, while operating a motor vehicle. Governor Bentley signed it into law shortly thereafter.

Alabama becomes the 38th state to ban texting while driving; the District of Columbia also prohibits it. If you’re caught, you’ll be fined $25 the first time, $50 if they catch you doing it again. If you’re hard-headed enough to be caught doing it a third time, look forward to a $75 fine. Each instance will also result in a two-point violation on your driving record.

Then again, you should have already stopped texting while driving here in Birmingham since the City Council unanimously passed a ban back in July 2010 (just months after UAB hosted a statewide summit on distracted driving the previous December).

Photo: Governor of Alabama’s Press Office.

Another one gets (forced) off the BJCTA bus

07172006-max-bus-close-upThe announcement that Peter Behrman will be leaving the BJCTA at the end of March was still a surprise to some despite the insane number of recent closed door meetings.

More disturbing is the number of people who’ve held the position. The transit authority has had 25 directors in 25 years.

We decided to take a quick look at the list of individuals who’ve served since 1994 – all nine of them. Why? Because the official National Transit Database website helped make it easy to do so…

The list is a pretty impressive one when you look at where some of them have ended up. Mr. Copling is currently a general manager for First Transit in Washington, DC, the folks responsible for the DC Circulator. Mark Stanley – he just became the executive officer for the Watershed Conservation Authority in California; he’d been serving as the director of planning for the Riverside Transit Authority since 2006. David Hill still serves as the deputy director for transit services for San Fransicso’s Muni system – a position he returned to after serving as that organization’s acting director of transit for just a little more than five months beginning in October 2009. If you want to visit Paul Ballard, just head up the road to Nashville. He’s been RTA’s CEO since January 2002. Looks like they like him a lot too.

Incidentally, you can also read one of Jerry Haight’s short stories about his days as BJCTA general manager on his website or check out Jay Saxon’s thesis (or maybe even this entire day of programming about transit) examining why he believes the system isn’t functioning to its full potential. There are also fleeting references to Alfred Richards and Frank Martin online if you dig deep enough (including how the authority benefited from the 1982 beer tax).

Get to know the “Red Rock” trail system plan

Red Rock Ridge & Valley logoThe name of the new greenway master plan – The Red Rock Ridge & Valley Trail System – was revealed last night to a standing room audience at the Birmingham Museum of Art’s 340-seat Steiner Auditorium.  Its new website, designed and developed by FitzMartin, was also unveiled, enabling people from throughout the region and the country to study it in depth. The site is seen as an implementation tool as well, providing supporters of the plan with necessary information to help see it get constructed.

The plan details a 750-mile combined network of greenways, blueways, paths, and trails along existing roads. Freshwater Land Trust executive director Wendy Jackson said could cost as much as $200 million if fully constructed – and the cost would be spread out over several decades and the 29 cities the trails would go through. The plan is focused on six major trails; Cahaba River, Five Mile Creek, Jones Valley, Shades Creek, Village Creek, and Turkey Creek with additional feeder trails.The plan also provides suggestions for a greenway alongside the proposed Northern Beltline if built while not endorsing that particular project.

The Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham has agreed to incorporate the plan into its long range transportation improvement program, making all trails eligible for federal funds from the Surface Transportation Program and the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program. If you’re wanting to dive into the entire plan on paper – there’s a link to a PDF download on the site that promises it will be available on March 9.

The greenway system formerly known as Our One Mile…

Greenwood Park in progressProgress continues at the site located just between Tallapoosa and Coosa Sts., I-20/59 and Vanderbilt Road soon to be known as Greenwood Park. It’s one of the pieces of what could be described as a ribbon of green running through the metro Birmingham region if citizens push to see plans revealed tonight (Tuesday) realized.

That’s when the Freshwater Land Trust will publicly unveil what’s been referred to until now as the Our One Mile initiative during an event at the Birmingham Museum of Art. It starts at 5:30 p.m. The event will also include the formal announcement of the winner of the FTH’s Name our Greenway System contest – and the $1,000 that goes with it.

This is a possible game-changer in terms of how people live and move through our region. It’s also a good reason to take a look at one part of town where the pieces are already falling into place for this to happen over on Dear Birmingham.