Birmingham City Council

Birmingham Officials Block Off East Lake Intersections in Hope of Reducing Crime

A pilot Safe Streets Initiative launched Monday in East Lake is blocking off key entry and exit points in an attempt to curb crime.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin on Tuesday gave the City Council an update on the initiative. He said it uses barricades to block entry and exit points to the neighborhood, which has been plagued with a series of high-profile shootings in the past few months. City officials believe the barriers will prevent drive-by shootings and perpetrators’ evading law enforcement.

According to the city’s website for the initiative, the barriers prevent through traffic at more than 20 intersections. The perimeter of the zone includes Division Avenue, Oporto Madrid Boulevard, Higdon Road and 68th Street South.

In October, city officials will evaluate the program to decide if it should continue or be expanded.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin (Source: City of Birmingham meeting stream)

Woodfin said city officials chose East Lake because the neighborhood has experienced a significant amount of crime in recent years, with illegal dumping, prostitution and gun crime being particularly prevalent.

The mayor said Birmingham police detected 2,164 gunshots in East Lake in 2023.

“That is unacceptable,” Woodfin said.

The Safe Streets Initiative will also include traffic calming efforts and increased code enforcement work to identify and address abandoned properties.

Woodfin told the council that, starting in April, he and city staff knocked on doors and talked with the residents in the area about the program.

According to the mayor, staff visited more than 800 homes as well as five churches and several businesses. Woodfin said 350 residents responded to a survey about the initiative, with nearly 90% of them supporting the effort.

Woodfin also presented the plan at East Lake neighborhood association meetings and hosted a town hall at New Rising Star Church.

“There has been over-communication on this program,” Woodfin said.

After the mayor’s presentation, each of the council members expressed their enthusiasm for the project.

“This is the most significant effort mounted ever since these problems became endemic to that area,” council President Darrell O’Quinn said.

This story has been corrected to reflect that Birmingham police detected 2,164 gunshots in East Lake in all of 2023.