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Old February 25th, 2011, 10:50 AM   #6481
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America was built for the car, it has the best roads. everything in Europe is all curvy and squiggly, whereas there it is in a nice grid, and the interstates are wide, and faster than they are here.
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Old February 26th, 2011, 10:36 PM   #6482
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Birmingham's 52-mile Northern Beltline will cost $4.7 billion to build according to a new estimate, a big jump from the previous price of $3.4 billion issued in late 2009.

According to Alabama Department of Transportation officials, the new cost estimate was developed in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration, which is asking states to review major projects to account for price inflation over time and other factors that have caused cost overruns on projects across the country.

The latest estimate puts the total cost of the freeway at an average of about $90 million per mile over the 25-year life of the project.
Opponents say the new price tag should prompt a re-evaluation.

"With all that is going on in Washington and Montgomery about the budget, I am alarmed that the projected cost, which was already so astronomical, has jumped even higher," said Pat Feemster, a member of Save Our Unique River, Communities and Environment, or SOURCE. "It is irresponsible to build a road that is not needed, not justified by traffic needs and will do such damage to the environment."

Proponents were surprised by the cost jump, but said it only points to the need to get the beltline built as quickly as possible.
"While I can't speak to the accuracy of the Federal Highway Administration's new cost estimate for the Northern Beltline, I do know this is a critical infrastructure project for our state, and I will continue to work to fund it expeditiously," said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala. "Escalating costs are just one more reason why we need to get this project under way and completed as quickly as possible."

Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, agreed: "The completion of the Northern Beltline is a high priority for the Birmingham region and retains my total support." Plans call for the new freeway to branch off Interstate 59 near the Jefferson-St. Clair County border and arc across north Jefferson County, crossing I-65 north of Gardendale, then dropping southwest, crossing Corridor X and eventually connecting to I-20/59 at the western end of I-459.
Proponents say that project is a logical complement to I-459, the southern beltline, and would open large areas of northern and western Jefferson County to suburban, commercial and industrial development.

Opponents say that the proposed path of the road would do little to relieve traffic congestion and is not justified as a transportation project. It would also cross the headwaters of the Cahaba River and Turkey Creek, which environmentalists fear could lead to water pollution problems.
Despite the rising cost estimate, the beltline does have a dedicated source of federal funding. Sen. Shelby had the beltline designated as part of the Appalachian Development Highway System, tapping a pot of road money separate from the state's general allocation of federal highway dollars.
Currently, the state gets about $117 million a year from the ADHS. That money is being used to connect Corridor X to I-65 and U.S. 31, and finish two smaller projects in North Alabama. When those projects are complete, the full allocation, plus the 20 percent state match, could be available for the beltline.

However, it is unclear how much the state will receive from ADHS going forward. Congress is currently drawing up new budgets and a new transportation bill. Funding levels set there will in turn determine the amount available for the beltline.

According to Don Vaughn, ALDOT's chief engineer, cost estimates inevitably
rise over time. Vaughn was involved in planning Corridor X, the soon-to-be-completed link between Birmingham and Memphis that will become I-22. In 1977, the estimate for that 100-mile interstate link in Alabama was $100 million, which at the time was a shocking number. Thirty-four years later, the actual cost of Corridor X looks to be around $1 billion.

ALDOT has a plan to build the beltline over 25 years, Vaughn said. However, the pace of construction will be dependent on the flow of federal dollars.
If the new cost estimate is accurate over the life of the project and money from the AHDS doesn't increase, it would take more than 32 years' worth of appropriations to complete the road.

Darrell Howard, deputy director of transportation planning at the Birmingham Regional Planning Commission, said that transportation planners have been aware for some time now of a troubling trend in highway financing.
As the fuel economy of cars and trucks has increased, the amount generated by fuel taxes have remained relatively flat, especially compared to increasing costs for construction, land and highway maintenance.

"If we assume federal money stays the same, there won't be enough money," Howard said. "We are running out money .¤.¤. It is something we have known was coming for a long time."

But Barry Copeland, the interim president of the Birmingham Business Alliance, said he is confident the state's congressional delegation will keep the project moving. Copeland said the increased cost estimate is not a reason to rethink the project.

"It is impossible to predict how much funding will be available, but I think the project is feasible to do and it is extremely necessary," he said. "It's absolutely important to the economic development to the northern half of Jefferson County. Wherever you put that route, economic development will follow. And the time to start it is now."

Eva Dillard, staff attorney for Black Warrior Riverkeeper, disagrees.
"With the national debt now over $14 trillion, we are at a loss to understand how beltline boosters can reconcile their support for this one project with their pledges to cut federal spending in Washington," Dillard said. "We want to see sensible, sustainable economic development initiatives for our region, not harmful projects like the beltline, which fragment communities and destroy natural resources."

This project has toll road written all over it.
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Old February 26th, 2011, 10:40 PM   #6483
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ALDOT to begin construction on next phase of Montgomery's Outer Loop
Published: Tuesday, February 22, 2011, 5:13 PM Updated: Tuesday, February 22, 2011, 5:13 PM
By Christine Kneidinger, al.com

MONTGOMERY, Alabama -- Montgomery residents will soon see less congestion on major interstates in the area, thanks to a plan to complete Montgomery's Outer Loop road system, meaning not only a shorter commute, but a plethora of benefits for the Montgomery community.

On Tuesday, Alabama Department of Transportation Director John R. Cooper joined Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange announced that ALDOT will dust off the plans to extend Interstate 85 to build the next phase of the Montgomery Outer Loop.

According to a news release, $60 million to $70 million in federal and state funds will be used for the Interstate 85 extension to build the next phase of the Montgomery Outer Loop that will eventually serve as an extension to I-85 through west Alabama, connecting I-20/59 near the Mississippi line to I-65.
The first leg of the project will be to connect Vaughn Road to I-85, which will begin late this summer.

About $90 million in federal funds, plus $18 million in state matching funds, remains available after the cost of the I-85 corridor study, which recommended the extension of I-85 begin at the Montgomery Outer Loop and continue through rural west Alabama to Interstate 20/59 near Cuba, Ala.
“I am very pleased to see that this project will finally be able to move forward, as it will be a major catalyst for continued economic development in Central Alabama,” Shelby said.

Local officials are praising this latest development. “Without Sen. Shelby’s leadership working with Federal Highway Administration officials in Washington, this project would not be moving forward,” Strange said. “This has been a true partnership between Sen. Shelby, ALDOT, Montgomery County and the City.”Dean, chairman of the Montgomery County Commission, praised the project for the growth potential it unleashes.

"This will alleviate traffic congestion on I-65 and I-85 through Montgomery, making the daily commute easier for tens of thousands while at the same time reducing the amount of truck traffic through downtown and making our area more attractive to potential employers," Dean said. "It will also provide a boost to tourism."

Ingram represents the district where the I-85 extension begins. "It makes sense to have the Outer Loop serve as the beginning of the I-85 extension," Ingram said. "This holds tremendous potential for the eastern portion of Montgomery County. It will boost property values, bring in new commerce and assist in tourism."

The initial work is expected to cost $60 million to $70 million. As with nearly all ALDOT projects, the costs will be divided on an 80 percent/20 percent split between federal and state funds.

When completed to I-65, the Outer Loop will be designated as I-85. The portion of I-85 into downtown Montgomery will be re-designated as I-685. The Outer Loop from I-85 to I-65 covers 24 miles.

The latest estimate for completing the entire I-85 extension beyond I-65 to I-20/59 is approximately $2.4 billion.
With bids tentatively scheduled to be taken in May, the first construction would likely begin by late summer.
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Old February 26th, 2011, 11:09 PM   #6484
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Is there a I-136 running from Indianapolis West to Edison, Nebraska? That would beat I-476 as the longest 3di interstate! But there is no I-36. So a orphan 3di like I-238?
NO! It's just a mistake of Google Maps. That is actually US-136: http://maps.google.es/maps?ie=UTF8&ll=39.588757,-93.054199&spn=8.412256,19.709473&z=6. Is actually very very substandard...
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Old February 26th, 2011, 11:16 PM   #6485
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I don't think the Birmingham Northern Beltline is really necessary. It's better to widen the remaining parts of I-20 to 8 lanes and rebuild the I-20/I-65 interchange. There isn't much north of Birmingham in terms of urban development and if it is a toll road even fewer people would use it.
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Old February 26th, 2011, 11:29 PM   #6486
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisZwolle View Post
I don't think the Birmingham Northern Beltline is really necessary. It's better to widen the remaining parts of I-20 to 8 lanes and rebuild the I-20/I-65 interchange. There isn't much north of Birmingham in terms of urban development and if it is a toll road even fewer people would use it.
The point is exactly to spur development along a new route :p
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Old February 26th, 2011, 11:53 PM   #6487
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The point is exactly to spur development along a new route :p
That is the biggest reason its still on the drawing board. Lots of big landowners would benefit greatly from this project. Before the Southern Beltline was constructed there was little to no development of any kind in the area. But in terms of traffic needs, I gotta side with Chris. The only traffic benefit gain I can see from this is for the commercial trucks coming in from the west on I-20/59 or I-22 then heading north on I-65.
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Old February 26th, 2011, 11:58 PM   #6488
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisZwolle View Post
I don't think the Birmingham Northern Beltline is really necessary. It's better to widen the remaining parts of I-20 to 8 lanes and rebuild the I-20/I-65 interchange. There isn't much north of Birmingham in terms of urban development and if it is a toll road even fewer people would use it.
Actually the last phase of the I-20 widening project is underway from Brompton to near Pell City. There are still no plans for the I-20/59 at I-65 interchange, even though I-65 widening project is completed north of there in anticipation of the completion of the I-22 interchange.
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Old February 27th, 2011, 12:02 AM   #6489
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The point is exactly to spur development along a new route :p
What development? Birmingham has lost over 30% of its population. The suburbs grew, but are not very large, especially not to the north. Alabama seems to be missing out on the massive growth of its neighbors (mainly Georgia and Tennessee).
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Old February 27th, 2011, 12:08 AM   #6490
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I-22 project on course: Weather doesn't slow Corridor X interchange
Published: Monday, January 24, 2011, 6:30 AM
By Jeremy Gray -- The Birmingham News

Despite recent snow and ice storms, work on the interchange linking Corridor X and Interstate 65 is on schedule and on budget, Alabama Department of Transportation officials said. "The weather's been a factor but the project's going well and work will accelerate as the weather begins to improve," said ALDOT spokeswoman Linda Crockett.

Blasting work began in October by the Georgia-based Archer Western Contractors, the company building the $168.6 million interchange. It includes 14 ramps and 14 bridges and stretches 1½ miles. "So far, the contractor's efforts have revolved around clearing and performing the initial bridge work and some culverts have been constructed," said ALDOT spokesman Tony Harris.

Portions of the bridges will be constructed off-site then brought to the construction zone for installation, Harris said. "So far, everything appears to be on target as far as schedule and budget," Harris said.

With a completion date set for 2014, the project will all but finish Alabama's 96-mile portion of Corridor X, the Birmingham-to-Memphis interstate that will be known as Interstate 22. The work will produce a four-level, 85-foot-tall interchange, with workers tunneling under I-65 to allow I-22 to run beneath the existing interstate. ALDOT officials have said the finished interchange will be similar to the I-459/65 junction in Hoover.

Another leg of the interstate project, the U.S. 31/I-22 interchange, has a preliminary cost estimate of between $15 million and $20 million. It involves building a 3,000-foot stretch of road linking I-22 to U.S. 31. Bids will be taken on that project this year and it should be completed in 2014, the same deadline for completing the I-22/65 interchange, ALDOT has said.
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Old February 27th, 2011, 12:14 AM   #6491
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Quote:
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What development? Birmingham has lost over 30% of its population. The suburbs grew, but are not very large, especially not to the north. Alabama seems to be missing out on the massive growth of its neighbors (mainly Georgia and Tennessee).
Actually Birmingham proper (within city limits) lost 30,000, while the metro area as a whole grew 7% in the last decade.

The proposed route of the Northern Beltline is mainly rural/exurban areas. The reason Alabama isnt growing as fast as states like Georgia and Tennessee, well thats another story.
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Old February 28th, 2011, 07:01 AM   #6492
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I wouldn't really say they're faster, certainly not in terms of speed limits, but everything else is correct, including the curvy and squiggly part.

I must say the Interstate system strikes me as one of the most brilliant public works projects, one that had a huge impact and was part of making America what it is today.
While the Interstate System is absolutely one of the most forward-thinking projects of the country's history, I do wish the mileage had been reduced, with the money left over going toward a regional high-speed rail system. But that's just me.
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Old March 4th, 2011, 03:41 AM   #6493
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America was built for the car, it has the best roads.
Wrong on both counts. America was not built for the car. Up until the 1950s which saw cheap oil and massive federal road subsidies begin, most Americans took trains or rode public transit to get around.

And America's roads are mostly in terrible shape. This country has a MASSIVE infrastructure deficit across all modes. Don't let the few shiny new roads in the South fool you.
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Old March 4th, 2011, 03:46 AM   #6494
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It's time to end the Applachian Development Highway System. It has turned into a massive subsidy enabling Southern states to get more than their fair share of highway funds for new road construction while other states struggle to maintain their existing roads.

Why are we building roads to attract NEW development? That is absurd. We need to build roads to serve areas growing on their own, not induce more sprawl especially with permanent high gas prices on the horizon.
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Old March 4th, 2011, 03:50 AM   #6495
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That's typical pro public transport mantra. Some of it might be justified but there are many factors more responsible for demise of public transport in America. Germany has extensive network of excellent free motorways but also one of the best public transport in the world.
Germany's auto manufacturers did not collude to destroy the nation's mass transit system the way GM did.
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Old March 4th, 2011, 06:07 AM   #6496
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troll
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Old March 4th, 2011, 10:00 AM   #6497
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Germany's auto manufacturers did not collude to destroy the nation's mass transit system the way GM did.
True....it seems that many U.S. cities had streetcar systems and only now are they coming back as "lightrail" systems. I think the Interstate system is awesome, I drive on it almost every day (Interstate 35) yet I would love to have a good alternative to fixing my car if it breaks down or paying $3.35 for gas.

Outside of Texas in the southeast the Interstates have been improved. I remember Louisiana and Arkansas used to have really shitty pavement on their Interstates. Actually going through Shreveport, LA and Birmingham, AL last summer did have crappy conditions on 20 with speed limits as low as 50 mph in which few people followed. Still beautiful in my opinion. I kinda enjoy seeing anomalies in our highway system.


As for building more interstates I'd like to see Texas 71 from Austin to Columbus, TX build to Interstate standards but it's not really needed after Bastrop since there are not traffic lights from Bastrop to Interstate 10.

[IMG]http://i54.************/2chq649.jpg[/IMG]

Last edited by FM 2258; March 4th, 2011 at 10:11 AM.
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Old March 4th, 2011, 02:47 PM   #6498
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As for building more interstates I'd like to see Texas 71 from Austin to Columbus, TX build to Interstate standards but it's not really needed after Bastrop since there are not traffic lights from Bastrop to Interstate 10.
It might be a bit more work, but why not the US290 corridor (you can move off it and serve Bastrop if you want), giving a route that doesn't feed into the Katy freeway?
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Old March 4th, 2011, 06:13 PM   #6499
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As for more highways in the Chicago region:
1) extend I-355 on the southern and northern ends
a) Northern end from IL-53 & Lake Cook Road north to IL-120 and east to I-94. A western spur through northern Lake and McHenry County to connect to US-12 at the Wisconsin border, where it is already built to or close to Interstate Standards in WI for about 30 miles north to Elkhorn.
b) Southern end from I-80 curving southeast to I-57 north of Kankakee and continuing to I-65 in Indiana.
2) Have Elgin-O'Hare Expressway connect to the proposed western ring toll-road around O'Hare, also connect to Elgin and then continue NW to connect with I-90
3) Rebuild out-dated cloverleaf junction at I-90 and I-290/IL53 to modern interchange with flyovers. Expand lane capacity of I-90 west of I-290 and add full interchange at Meacham Rd or expand partial interchange at Roselle Rd. to full interchange.
4) Expand I-80 to 2x3 from current 2x2 from just east of I-355 to I-55
5) Expand I-57 to 2x3 from current 2x2 from I-80 to Sauk Trail
6) Expand I-90 to 2x3 from current 2x2 from Randall Rd to I-39 and have Wisconsin expand I-90 from 2x2 to 2x3 from IL line to Madison.
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Old March 5th, 2011, 03:11 AM   #6500
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Germany's auto manufacturers did not collude to destroy the nation's mass transit system the way GM did.
Come on men. People were happy to jump into the cars. No one forced them.
It has more to do with people's attitudes toward public transport and also nation culture and habits in general. American society is much more individualistic than German one.
Germany is also much, much more densely populated than USA.
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