Bell hopes light rail becomes reality for Birmingham

By Alan Collins

BIRMINGHAM (WBRC) - Birmingham Mayor William Bell says he wants to push for light rail this year.

City employees surprised Bell with a party and cake to celebrate his first year in office.

Bell says light rail will be a top goal for 2011.

"We realize the federal government is facing a financial problem of its own, but the congress as well as the President wants to rebuild the transportation system," Bell said.

Some of those who ride the metro area Express say they would like to give light rail a try.

"I think it's a good idea because people that ride the bus, I don't always do, but people got to get where they go," Yaschica Wilson said.

Bell says the federal government may give the city $100 to $200 million if the city can raise $16 to $20 million in matching funds.

"Once we get a sense the public wants to build a light rail system and is willing to make the sacrifice to do that and create a job to in order to build it," Bell said.
Bell says the public may be asked to support a new tax to raise the money. Some bus riders say they may support the tax others are not so sure.

"I say yes. It will benefit a lot of people. Sometimes we have to do what we have to do," Wilson said.

"It depends on where the finances come from because every idea we can't buy into because the city comes out and say we got something new going on board," Cedric Hatcher said.

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