The Birmingham City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution opposing construction of a road and bridge project across the Little Cahaba River on Cahaba Beach Road.
The resolution was approved without discussion as part of the council’s consent agenda. It was discussed and approved by the council during a committee meeting earlier this month.
The road would connect Cahaba Beach Road off U.S. 280 to Sicard Hollow Road in Shelby County and to the Liberty Park development in Vestavia Hills. It would cross the Little Cahaba River, which flows from Lake Purdy, the area’s primary source of drinking water, to the Cahaba River near where water is withdrawn for treatment.
Councilors have expressed concerns about risks to water quality, including the potential for accidents, hazardous spills into the drinking water source and pollution from the road, along with degradation of the natural forest. The Birmingham Water Works Board is expected to consider a similar resolution. Board leaders have said they needed a formal presentation from the Alabama Department of Transportation before weighing in on the matter.
In a statement after the resolution was approved, Sarah Stokes, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, said, “As some of the last remaining undeveloped tracts of land in a rapidly urbanizing area, preserving these areas in the Cahaba River watershed provides a natural buffer to filter stormwater runoff and keeps our drinking water supply clean.”
Beth Stewart, executive director for the Cahaba River Society, encouraged ALDOT to study smaller improvements to ease traffic “that don’t require opening our resources to harm with a project of this magnitude.”
“We appreciate that the Birmingham City Council passed a resolution opposing the project, showing that they agree that an unnecessary, destructive road creating convenience for only a few is not worth significant threats to a major drinking water source for 600,000 people,” she said.
Read the BirminghamWatch story on the earlier council meeting: