Tag Archives: proposal

UPDATE: BJCTA to hold public meeting on proposed new U.S. 280 commuter route

UPDATE: 9/23/2014, 4:15 p.m. – The original headline for this piece, and information contained within, was based information provided during and after the presentation suggesting it would take place on September 23. While preparing to re-share the piece this afternoon, we learned that it will instead be held on a new, yet to be confirmed date in the near future. It will be shared here once it is finalized.

newmallbusBirmingham area residents living along U.S. Highway 280 may soon have another option to consider during their morning and evening commutes. Members of the Birmingham City Council’s Transportation and Communication committee heard from Henry Ikwut-Ukwa, manager of planning and development for the BJCTA, on Wednesday afternoon about proposed commuter route along the perpetually congested thoroughfare.

The proposed route, which would be known as Route 201, would run four times a day initially (two trips inbound at 5:45 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. and two trips outbound at 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.). The buses would operate between the Walmart location along Highway 280 near Lake Purdy and State Highway 119 and the BJCTA’s Central Station (soon to be replaced by the intermodal facility now under construction), stopping at The Summit, St. Vincent’s Hospital UAB, the central business district, and the Social Security Building (located at the corner of 14th Street North and Abraham Woods, Jr. Blvd). It was stressed that the route is only proposed at this point and is subject to changes.

It is one of three routes currently under consideration for pilot commuter service in the area. One of the other proposed routes would operate during peak morning and afternoon travel periods between downtown Bessemer and the Galleria in Hoover. A third route would serve as the long-talked about shuttle service between downtown Birmingham and Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.

bjcta280boundThe seven new buses being used for the pilot effort were purchased using grant monies obtained with local matching funds provided by the city of Hoover originally intended to provide assistance for a city circulator. It was later changed to allow for the purchase. (It is one of several orders for new buses received in recent years by the BJCTA.) A restriction on the how the grant could be used prevents them from being added to the existing fixed routes. Ikwut-Ukwa placed the estimated cost to operate the service at $101,400 and that it could be accommodated in the current operations budget. He told the committee the authority was anticipating an estimated early usage of 25-35 riders; each bus can hold 26 people and are ADA accessible. He also informed them the authority’s board was looking at the system’s fare structure and that the cost for riding on this particular route had not been determined as of yet.

There will be a public notification meeting held on Tuesday, September 23, in the Arrington Auditorium on the fourth floor of the Birmingham Public Library’s central branch from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. in the near future. It’s hoped those in attendance will help them to refine and develop the pilot route and schedule.

A new plan for a Standard site across from Railroad Park

parksideaptsiteAs dirt was moving to enabling the street in front of it to be repaved this morning, schematic approval was given for a new residential development along 1st Avenue South between 17th and 18th Streets by Birmingham’s Design Review Committee. The working name for the proposed S-shaped building, presented by CRD, RR, LLC, is Parkside Apartments.

The proposal, which must now return before the committee for approval of materials and finishes in addition to final design, calls for it to contain 237 rental units, (22% of them 2 bedroom units),  meaning as many as 286 residents living across from Railroad Park. It is estimated the $21 million project could break ground within the next 10 weeks according to David Austin, representing GA Studio this morning. The current proposal suggests a mix of metal panels, stucco, and brick veneer. Amenities for residents would include a fitness center, 2nd floor garden terrace, and pool.

The $21 million project is slated to sit on the site once considered for construction of the Standard at Midtown, a $40 million 11-story development containing 145 units, a mix of both condominiums and rentals, proposed by Corporate Realty Development (one of the companies involved in this new effort) back in 2004.

There were some concerns raised about the lack of retail spaces represented in the schematic plans reviewed by the committee. The working draft of the city’s comprehensive plan was referenced by one member as they pointed out the hope for more mixed  use development opportunities to be undertaken, particularly given this site’s location across from the award-winning park. When asked by the committee to explain the situation, Austin from stated it was due to current market conditions, pointing to existing retail spaces currently vacant in mixed-use projects in the immediate area, including Cityville.

Parking was also talked about, specifically in relation to the amount of space it takes up versus potential commercial opportunities. The schematic shows there would be two levels of parking accessible from the alley, a move necessary in order to accommodate one parking space per tenant. The plan shows street level would contain 131 spaces. The proposed 4 or 5 story structure would be the first project built since developers signed a compact in early 2010 committing to handling parking inside the block whenever possible. Time will tell whether this and other developments will resemble any of the conceptual proposals presented at that time.

What’s the plan for the former Engine No. 22?

Surveying Engine Number 22; Birmingham, ALWorkers were surveying the former location for Birmingham Fire Department Engine No. 22 early this morning, just one day after the city’s Design Review Committee held over for review a conceptual design that would allow a Walgreens pharmacy to replace the structure – along with the car repair business immediately next door and apparently long time fixture breakfast venue Bogue’s Restaurant.

According to a Birmingham Business Journal article from earlier this month, there have been several inquiries made about redevelopment of the busy intersection where the Lakeview, Highland Park and Forest Park neighborhoods meet.

Jeremy Erdreich’s blog, Bhamarchitect, has received a great deal of traffic, and comments, as a result of his post about yesterday morning’s meeting.

UPDATE: A different view may be coming soon

Photo: acnatta/bhamterminal.com

UPDATE: The Birmingham News reports that UAB pulled the item from the agenda earlier this evening.

That evening rush hour view along I-65 may be getting a change soon (and one that may give northbound travelers something to look at. The Birmingham News learned that UAB planned to make a presentation to the university system’s board of trustees asking that they be allowed to purchase the Medical Center Inn; plans are said to involve an expansion of athletic fields for the school. More importantly for many, it means no more Waffle House in the city center (and right after they started to accept credit cards too).

We’ll see if we can learn anything else (or see if someone else does first) and let you know.

Larry proposes citywide paving plan

Well, we figured it would become a bigger story – and it did (with a bigger dollar amount attached). The Birmingham News reported on Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s proposed $16 million/year plan in today’s edition after Langford announced his intentions to ask the City Council to approve $27 million to pave streets in the city center during his appearance at the Burger-Phillips Building‘s unveiling late last week. The plan according to the story is to pave 500 miles over the next three years, leading some to ask that question more of the same questions…

Langford’s had a busy day…

Langford with school children. acnatta/Flickr

Mayor Langford speaks to students at Phillips Academy during Wachovia’s Way2Save event on April 22. acnatta/Flickr.

Larry Langford’s been a busy individual this morning. Here he’s seen talking to area school children during today’s Wachovia Way2Save event. Representatives from four area schools each received $2,000 for their scholarship funds at the event. The mayor spent most of the time he was at the event taking pictures with the children and answering questions about this morning’s approval of his proposal to pay for free bus rides in Birmingham beginning in May and running through August by the City Council.

According to the blog post made earlier today by The Birmingham News, the BJCTA board still needs to approve the proposal during their board meeting tomorrow.

Langford’s Fair Park plan awaits Council approval Tuesday

Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford this morning laid out his plans to City Council members to completely revitalize Fair Park, a $125 – $150 million project that would be funded using portions of the recent sales and business tax increases, and could be completed in three years.All Langford needs now is the Council’s approval of the plan. It will be on the their agenda Tuesday.

“If ever there was a place that needs a shot in the arm, it’s Five Points West,” he said.

Langford said the project could be built debt-free using millions that the taxes are generating, plus unused money in the city’s budgets from stalled or inactive school and other capital projects. The city’s $55 million would jumpstart the economic development process.

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