Jefferson County Commission

Not Now, JeffCo Commission Tells Advocates Who Want Biking/Walking Trail Along Diaper Row

Bryson Stephens hears from County Manager Cal Markert and Assistant County Manager Heather Carter.(Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

Bryce Stephens left the Jefferson County Courthouse a bit disappointed this morning, learning that he’ll have to wait before his vision of improving pedestrian and bicycle traffic along 21st Avenue South can come to reality.

“It’s complicated,” said Stephens, president of the Red Mountain Cut Foundation. “Birmingham would like to handle it a different way. I think they support the improvements on the street. I think that is no question.”

Stephens had hoped that the County Commission would make the appropriate approval for the county to apply for a federal TAP grant. The matter was added to the agenda as new business, but he learned moments before the meeting that the item would be removed from consideration.

County Manager Cal Markert said a government jurisdiction can apply for and receive only one TAP grant at a time. Birmingham already has a TAP grant in the works.

“We were going to be the jurisdictional agency to apply in the city of Birmingham,” Markert said. “Birmingham has requested, since it’s their road, that we wait until the next cycle. They want to be a part of the project but they can’t have competition with the current project they’re trying to get (funded via a TAP grant).”

The county manager said that while the process is delayed, progress will continue.

“I think they’re also going to go ahead and be working on the plans and keep pursuing it and just apply in the next cycle,” Markert said.

Stephens had sought and received resolutions of support for the project from neighboring Homewood and Mountain Brook.

“Birmingham is going to support an application, perhaps next year, a year from now, or there might be some other pathway to getting it done,” Stephens said. “I still have a lot to learn on just exactly what’s going on.”

The Red Mountain Cut Foundation hopes to improve walkability of 21st Avenue with the installation of walking lanes and bicycle lanes from Birmingham’s Vulcan Park, under the Elton B. Stephens Expressway and to English Village. Decades ago, the thoroughfare earned the nickname “Diaper Row” because so many young families were having babies and diapers were visible hanging on clotheslines outside.