Northern Beltline study to be released, landowners concerned

By Arielle Clay

TRUSSVILLE, AL (WBRC) - A study on the 53 mile stretch of interstate dubbed the Northern Beltline is set to be released Monday.

The project is expected to be cost over $1 billion.

Supporters of the Beltline say it will have a major economic impact but those against it say that impact comes at the sake of others.

"It's very hard and it keeps you awake at night," Michelle McDonald said.

For years now, McDonald has been restless.  She is worried that her family's land in Trussville is in danger. She says her land is prime real estate for the Northern Beltline.

 "It's been in my family for three generations and I should have the option for my family for my kids to get married here for my grandkids to come here," McDonald said.
The interstate would be built north of Birmingham.  Supporters including Sen. Richard Shelby and Congressman Spencer Bachus say it would finish a loop around the city already started with I-459 and I-59.  Bachus and Shelby say the Beltline will bring in billions with the construction, development and new business.

"Creating jobs and really transforming the region.  It will add new jobs, higher paying jobs for those who have jobs," Bachus said.

But McDonald and her Beltline opposition group, SOURCE, say providing that growth to some means taking from others.

"You're not growing. You're just relocating things from one city to another.  That's not growth.  One city becomes desolate because you moved it thirty miles down the road," McDonald said.

McDonald says her biggest concern, though, is that the Beltline project is unnecessary and that the planned route for the interstate is inefficient.

"The Metropolitan Planning Organization and all the documentation says it's not a priority project,"

According to a 2009 study of long range projects done by the Birmingham Metropolitan Planning Organization the Northern Beltline is considered middle priority.

"I can't imagine why it's not the highest priority.  It would be the biggest road construction in the history of Jefferson County," Bacchus said.

A project that for some will be a new path of opportunity and for others could be the end of the road.

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