Questions and Answers about the proposed new Cahaba Beach Road
We have questions about the proposed new Cahaba Beach Road connecting Hwy. 280 and Sicard Hollow Road, and we thought you might too. Below are the answers we have.
How would a new road and bridge damage our drinking water source?
The new Cahaba Beach Road would cut a swath through forested open space lands around the Little Cahaba River, which help keep our drinking water clean as it comes from Lake Purdy to the intakes in the Cahaba River. Much of the land is owned by the Birmingham Water Works, bought with ratepayer money many years ago to protect our water.
The road would bring traffic from the Liberty Park area to Highway 280, and would bring 280 cut-through traffic to Sicard Hollow Road, and potentially to I-459, right across our drinking water source. This is one of the last healthy tributaries of the River. The diverse, rare freshwater creatures that live there show how healthy and relatively unspoiled this creek is. The new road would increase risks from construction, forest loss, heavy traffic, urban runoff, spin-off development, and the potential for a direct spill into the drinking water source.
There’s a lot of development around the Cahaba River. What’s different about this road?
There are many places where well-built development can be positive for communities. However, lands purchased with public ratepayer money with the intention of permanently protecting the region’s drinking water source are not the right place for development.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Who is paying for this new road?
You, the taxpayer. According to preliminary estimates, It would cost $10 - $20 million dollars of public money to build this road and bridge, which is meant to relieve Highway 280 traffic and increase private development of the area. These are your tax dollars, spent in ways that endanger your drinking water. In addition, the Birmingham Water Works board bought much of the land with ratepayer money to protect our water.
Where can I get more information and express my opinion?
Southern Exposure Cahaba Beach Road Film Screening and Q&A
When: NEXT Thursday, August 2, 2018 at 6pm
Where: upstairs at Avondale Brewery
We are excited that the proposed Cahaba Beach Road project is the focus of one of this year's Southern Exposure Film Fellowship's short documentaries. Filmmaker David Diaz has done an excellent job exploring the project. His film features appearances by Cahaba River Society and Cahaba Riverkeeper staff, area residents, and City Council Representative Hunter Williams.
We will host a screening of the film followed by a question and answer session in the upstairs room at Avondale Brewery. Please join us for this special opportunity to get informed.
ALDOT Public Involvement Meeting
When: Tuesday, August 7, 2018 from 4-7pm
Where: Liberty Park Middle School (17035 Liberty Parkway, 35242)
ALDOT is soliciting input on the proposed project. Attendees will have the opportunity to review project information and discuss the project with representatives from ALDOT and the project designers. Comment forms may be submitted during the meeting. Include in your communications any concerns you have about the proposed new road and potential impacts to your drinking water. We ask that you join in recommending the “no build” alternative.
Deadline for submitting written comments
When: August 22, 2018
Written comments for the official public record will be accepted through August 22, 2018. Include in your communications any concerns you have about the proposed new road and potential impacts to your drinking water. We ask that you join in recommending the “no build” alternative.
Send comments to:
ATTN: Mrs. Sandra F.P. Bonner and Mr. DeJarvis Leonard, P.E. Region Engineer
via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alabama Department of Transportation – East Central Region
PO Box 2745
Birmingham, AL 35202-2745
With information now available, CRS believes the construction and long term impacts of any of the proposed alternative routes poses too great a risk of degrading our drinking water source. Cahaba River Society recommends the “no build” alternative at this time.
Did ALDOT do an environmental impact study on what the options would do to the area?
ALDOT is still studying the potential impact of the proposed road options. The hearing on Oct. 17 is a part of that process and is one reason it is so important that people attend and voice their opinion. ALDOT pays attention to the number of people who support or oppose a project.
ALDOT is doing an initial Environmental Assessment. It is typical for ALDOT to conclude after this basic study that there is no significant impact requiring further study and the project can proceed. Cahaba River Society believes that an in-depth Environmental Impact Statement process, with required public involvement, is necessary.
How has urban growth been impacting the Cahaba River and our drinking water?
The Cahaba River is vulnerable and facing increasing damage. Because of urban runoff, there is more pollution during rains and less water in the river during droughts. Parts of the River have had unsafe levels of human disease pathogens. More treated sewage is being diverted into Lake Purdy and the River, and that increases potential carcinogens and drugs like hormones in our water source.
We want our communities to grow, but the Cahaba can continue to be a source of healthy, affordable drinking water for Birmingham and the region only if urban growth does not degrade the River. Unfortunately, urban impacts have been degrading the River, increasing the cost to treat our drinking water and leaving us less water supply during drought, when we need it the most. This can lead to water restrictions and higher surcharge rates during drought situations.
Where does Cahaba River Society stand about development around the River?
The Cahaba River Society supports healthy growth in communities around the river. We work with development professionals and with state, county and city officials to try to ensure that development is done in the right way that sustains our drinking water source for future generations. We have a track record as an expert resource and advisor for development best practices that protect the River and our drinking water.
However, those best practices need to become standard practices. Until our local governments adopt better policies and codes, much of the development that occurs is unnecessarily damaging to the River and our drinking water. CRS invites all stakeholders to work together on larger solutions to sustain this essential regional resource.