Gov. Riley and ALDOT present plans for expanding Highway 280

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Governor Riley and ALDOT are proposing a massive re-engineering of Highway 280 to try and alleviate traffic congestion.

The new plan is a mix of 2 previous plans that adds new elevated lanes to part of the roadway, adding express lanes, and paying for much of it by making the new lanes a toll road.

Here's the new plan the state backs:

Starting at Double Oak Mountain to I-459, there would be 4 elevated toll lanes.       

Those lanes are elevated above the present Highway 280.

Near The Summit, those toll lanes come back down to grade continuing to Red Mountain Expressway in Homewood.
The current 6 surface lanes and 4 elevated "toll" lanes in the center makes a 10-lane Highway 280 more navigable.

On the toll road, the state thinks you could go from Birmingham to Double Oak Mountain in 10 minutes.
"The thing that's remarkable about this is it can be completely finished with construction in 3 years and be riding on it," Gov. Riley said. Adding,  "Usually it takes 3 years just to get the environmental approval. Here you could be riding on it 3 years from now."
"This is really a dream come true," said Mt. Brook Mayor Terry Oden.

Oden says he supports this plan because it is almost identical to a plan his city, along with Vestavia Hills and Homewood, endorsed 6 months ago.
"I'm sure somebody will object to it, somebody will always object to everything, but this is the best we can hope for, and I'd be willing to go to the well with it," said Oden.
He was also told by ALDOT's director that the $700-800 million cost of the project would be paid for by making the new lanes a toll road.

The cost would be around $2.50 to go the length of the expressway. So would drivers be willing to pay that?
"If it was 50 cents or maybe $1, that may be easier to swallow," said frequent driver Leo Karpeles. "But I wouldn't think of anything other than that."

"I think it's needed because we have no more land," said motorist Frank Phillips. "We can't widen, so I think it's a good idea."

Homewood Mayor Scott McBrayer also told FOX6 news he likes what he sees in this plan.

The governor's office tells us the cities involved will have to sign legal agreements with the state before any work can begin.

Oden says that  transportation officials told him they would like to start work on this project before Governor Riley leaves office at the end of next year.