Public Meeting Set on Proposed Bridge Across the Little Cahaba River; Environmentalists Worry It Will Threaten Water Quality.

Old, closed bridge on Cahaba Beach Road. Photo Credit: Hank Black

The Alabama Department of Transportation will discuss its proposed route for a bridge across the Little Cahaba River during a public meeting Tuesday, Oct. 17.

Environmentalists have opposed the proposed extension of Cahaba Beach Road across the river, saying the construction and potential development of the pristine area could threaten the health of a major source of drinking water.

ALDOT engineers propose to cut from Swan Drive, 1.7 miles from U.S. 280, to Sicard Hollow Road via a new bridge to funnel some traffic off of crowded U.S. 280. Representatives of the project will be available for discussion from 5 p.m. to 7 pm at Liberty Park Middle School Cafeteria, 17035 Liberty Parkway.

A previous road across the river was closed about 25 years ago, and the decommissioned bridge has been used for education programs by river advocate Cahaba River Society.

The CRS opposes the proposed project, saying in a statement that the new road would risk damaging the river “from construction, forest loss, heavy traffic, urban run-off, spin-off development, and the potential for a direct spill into the drinking water.”

CRS Executive Director Beth Stewart said the Birmingham Water Works Board owns much of the undeveloped land near the river to protect the watershed. The new construction, she said, would be upstream from the water works’ intake pipe. The Little Cahaba River carries water from the BWWB’s Lake Purdy reservoir to be treated for drinking.

ALDOT held an earlier meeting this year to propose multiple routes across the Little Cahaba.

Citizens may make comments during the meeting Tuesday and can send written comments by Nov. 1 to DeJarvis Leonard, PE, Region Engineer, PO Box 2745, Birmingham, AL 35202-2745, ATTN: Sandra F.P. Bonner.