More traffic to Hwy 280 after state approves Trinity relocation

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - By Jonathan Hardison

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Today's decision by the Alabama's Certificate of Need Board allows Trinity Hospital to relocate to the digital hospital possibly within 2 years. Hundreds of patients and their families as well as doctors and nurses will travel Highway 280 for the hospital.

That's coupled with rush-hour traffic jams that already make the road one of the state's worst for delays. So how will drivers deal with the extra company on the roads?

The prospect of hundreds of extra cars in congestion was one of the arguments that Trinity's opponents used during Wednesday's hearing as they want to block its relocation.                    

Trinity argued it has a plan to address traffic that won't make the rush-hour scene any worse. In the end, state regulators decided the medical good outweighed the possibility of bad traffic. And the drivers we talked to during Wednesday's rush hour seemed to agree.

 "Traffic's already bad enough as it is, all the patients coming here through here will only affect it more for people driving on the road," said Will Hamn. "But at the same time I feel like it's a good thing for that hospital now to be open after however many years it's been empty."

Megan Spain also drives 280 everyday. She added, "I think it's worth it to have a hospital that close, you know. You have to go all the way down 280 anyways the other way to get it, so maybe it'll keep people down that way. I try to sneak down the middle because I come from Pelham. I'm sure it'll make traffic a little bit worse, but it's kind of a tradeoff you have to take."

Firefighters at Birmingham Fire Station #32 don't have a choice of an alternate route. When the call comes, they have to rush into the traffic jam. But the fire department says it can handle the increased traffic the new hospital may bring right across the street.

"It will add a little burden to it. But we do have lights at that particular intersection that responds to when we go in and out. And I'm pretty sure the hospital will put in a light on their end that will help and drive down the congestion somewhat," said Captain C.W. Mardis of the Birmingham Fire Department.

In fact, the department says it will cut down on the time it takes first responders to get fire or accident victims from the emergency scene to a hospital. "It will also allow us to get back into service quicker because all we have to do is go right back across the street, so it's a win-win sitaution for us in that respect," Mardis said.

Copyright 2010 WBRC. All rights reserved.