By Johnathan Hardison
JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - A new friendship may be budding between Jefferson County's two biggest cities.
Birmingham and Hoover share a border, but their city leaderships have often disagreed on politics. That may be changing with a new mayor in Birmingham's city hall.
The future of Highway 280 is a hot topic in all 5 cities that border the roadway, but it appears the 2 biggest cities in the county and along that road are hoping to come to an agreement on whether they support ALDOT's plan to add elevated and expanded toll lanes.
"We have to look at it from the city of Hoover's perspective, but also the entire region," said Hoover Mayor Tony Petelos. "We have a lot of businesses on 280 and residents down the 280 corridor."
"You have to weigh it all in balance, but at the end of the day do what's right for our citizens but try to cooperatively move the entire region along," Birmingham Mayor William Bell said.
Hearing both mayors talk about the region rather than just their cities is music to the ears of economic development officials who have long said the metro area's cities need to work more closely together to bring businesses and jobs to the area, and solve common problems like traffic headaches.
After Thursday's meeting, both mayors said they're committed to improving communication between the cities, and said they hoped to hold more joint meetings in the near future.
"Absolutely, what do you think Mayor Bell? I'm committed to that," Petelos said.
"Mayor Petelos and I are friends, and when I was elected to the position of mayor, we both committed to trying to work together to improve the entire region," Bell said. "When we heard about this project, I felt this was the beginning of a long relationship we can start on a positive note."
The 2 cities' leaderships may meet together again in April when a group opposed to ALDOT's plan is scheduled to present their alternative to both cities. It hasn't been decided yet whether that presentation will happen at the same time for both city councils or at separate meetings.
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