A drive along 1st Avenue South heading east contains a significant yet subtle development for those able to stop and take a look. You’ll notice the absence of rails and ties both in the area known as the 1st Avenue Cut between 20th & 24th Sts. and between 28th and 32nd Sts.
A quick look at Birmingham’s GIS map shows most of the property in question being held by CSX. If you can’t tell, I started getting that nagging feeling again (you may have seen what happened earlier this week when that starts), and for some pretty good reasons.
The parcels in question have been identified on several occasions as essential for the “Plan A” expansion of Railroad Park. This would eventually connect the existing park between 14th and 18th Streets South and the property sitting on the northwest corner of 1st Ave. S. and 18th St. that served as the focus of “Prize 2 the Future” contest to Sloss Furnaces.
The native New Yorker who reads way too many online publications from there every morning remembered the transportation company had already agreed in principal to donate the property necessary to complete the city’s High Line back in late 2011. They donated the property developed as the first segment of the park back in 2005. They also have a history of donating property across the country to recreational projects and those that focus on alternative transportation solutions. Attempts were made to hear the reason for the track removal from CSX via email last week; there has still not been a response.
It doesn’t hurt that by removing the track they’ve enabled the city to be able to claim that this project is shovel-ready for development as part of the Jones Valley Corridor. It’s considered an integral part of the Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System unveiled earlier this year by the Freshwater Land Trust.
This becomes significant when you realize they’re going to announce what projects across the country have been awarded TIGER grants pretty soon – even sooner than some may realize. A bid was submitted for this round to help “jump start” some area projects; it’s the second attempt to secure these federal funds to assist with the greenway initiative.
There’s also the amount of activity currently taking place close to 32nd St. and 1st Ave. S to consider. We’re anxiously awaiting more information about the upcoming groundbreaking for Sloss’ new visitors center, a project many years in the making. Those who driving by IMS‘ properties close to Sloss’ entrance notice Appleseed Workshop signs up and a significant transformation underway to make this section of town resemble the master plan the company unveiled a couple of years ago for the Sloss Business District.
When you consider the demand for the monies awarded is far exceeding the supply, the cumulative effect of all of these things happening at once suddenly gives you hope for our chances of being awarded funds. Even if it’s not awarded, there’s been a shift in momentum for this area of the city – one that’s sure to pick up steam. It’s a perfect opportunity to focus on the concept of accentuating the city positive I talked about on here a couple of years ago.
Nice, isn’t it.
André Natta is the station master for bhamterminal.com.