BJCTA’s proposed vehicle maintenance facility in Forestdale met with criticism by some residents

Concerns over proposal for new facility in Forestdale
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 5:15 AM CDT
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FORESTDALE, Ala. (WBRC) - The Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority (BJCTA) finds itself in the midst of a heated debate as it seeks to build a vehicle maintenance facility in the Forestdale community. Residents and community leaders, including the Forestdale Community Development Association, voiced their concerns and met with the BJCTA at the Pratt City Public Library on Thursday to seek clarity and express their reservations.

The proposal to construct a vehicle maintenance facility has stirred up strong reactions, with some community members deeming it “unsuited” for the area. The meeting was to provide more information about the project and address the community’s apprehensions.

Representatives from four Forestdale Neighborhood Associations, namely Holiday Hills, Forestview Estates, Merrywood, and Hillview, attended the meeting. Residents from the Minor Community and Crumley Chapel neighborhoods were also present.

Key concerns raised by residents and community leaders include:

  • Proximity to Residential Areas: Some residents argue that the proposed facility’s location may be too close to residential areas, potentially violating the current Jefferson County Comprehensive Development Plan.
  • Inconsistency with Community Vision: Critics assert that the project is not in alignment with the Forestdale Development Vision for 2023.
  • Safety Concerns: Residents express unease over the placement of a compressed natural gas and hydrogen fuel facility near residential neighborhoods, considering it a potential safety hazard.
  • Environmental Justice: The proposal has also sparked concerns about the historical pattern of placing industrial and commercial facilities near communities of color, raising questions about environmental justice.

Wytangy Peak-Finney, a representative from BJCTA, defended the proposal, expressing optimism that the community would welcome the facility once they gained a better understanding of its intentions. “People want to make sure you’re not bringing broken down buses. You’re not bringing crime to their community. We just want to ensure that is not the case here,” said Peak-Finney.

According to information available on the BJCTA website, the maintenance department currently oversees a fleet of 110 vehicles. This proposed facility is part of BJCTA’s efforts to improve its services and operations.

It’s important to note that this meeting was just the initial round of public involvement sessions. More meetings are slated to take place before a final design for the facility is approved. The BJCTA appears committed to addressing community concerns and engaging with residents as the project develops.

As the discussions surrounding the vehicle maintenance facility continue, the Forestdale community and BJCTA will need to find common ground to ensure the project aligns with the community’s vision and addresses the concerns raised by residents. Balancing the need for improved public transportation services with the preservation of community integrity and safety will be a challenging task for all involved parties.

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