Birmingham needs a balanced transportation system that not only moves cars but that also provides viable transit options for Birmingham residents and encourages walkability and bikeability. Projects like the Intermodal Facility are welcomed additions to downtown, but they are not substitutes for a comprehensive transportation plan that would invest in the City’s transportation system and repair our aging infrastructure.
As Mayor, I would pursue a six-part transportation plan that would invest in our infrastructure and establish the foundation for a more balanced city transportation network by:
Developing a Capital Improvement Plan for repairing our aging infrastructure. Birmingham has aging infrastructure like the 21st Street and 22nd Street Bridges that are unsafe and decaying. As we saw in Atlanta recently with Interstate 85, breaks in our critical infrastructure put our economy and our safety at risk. Within my first 100 days, I would commission the Director of Planning and the City Traffic Engineer to identify priority streets, bridges and sidewalks for inclusion in a four-year capital improvement plan that will inform my Administration’s infrastructure investment priorities. The current Administration has talked about this for years, but now we’re at the end of a second term with no plan in place. As Mayor, I would instruct the Director of Planning and the City Traffic Engineer to develop a four-year plan for street resurfacing and bridge repairs to be included within the capital improvement plan.
Earmarking at least $1 million annually for streetscaping, fixing potholes, and repairing sidewalks. Over 200 miles of Birmingham’s streets are in disrepair creating a backlog of over $50 million in future repairs. Bond funding for repairing our streets and sidewalks every few years is not enough as safe streets and sidewalks should be a priority in every City budget. As Mayor, I would commit at least $1 million annually to streetscaping, filling potholes, and repairing sidewalks.
Proposing a Complete Streets Ordinance. Far too few Birmingham roads accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists. A “Complete Streets Policy” would require that the City consider opportunities to accommodate drivers, transit users, bikers and pedestrians in all new City road projects. Within the first 100 days, I would work with the City Council to adopt a Complete Streets Ordinance to guide all future road projects in Birmingham.
Enhancing walkability and accessibility. Walkability is a part of the foundation of a healthy neighborhood.In my first 100 days, I would expedite the adoption and implementation of the Sidewalk Master Plan ensuring that our sidewalks are safe and walkable.
Adopting a citywide bicycling plan. For many of our college students and millennials, and also for many low- income residents, biking can be a legitimate means of transportation which can improve health and pull cars off the roads. Unfortunately, many of our main thoroughfares lack clear bike lanes that protect bicyclists and give drivers clear boundaries. As Mayor, I would commission a Bike Safety Working Group to develop a citywide bicycling plan to identify roads that could be re-striped for bike lanes. I would also build partnerships with neighborhoods and local bike advocacy groups like the Freshwater Land Trust, Redemptive Cycles, Black People Run, Bike, and Swim and with local universities to build support for the Bike Safety Working Group’s recommendations.
Encouraging higher-density transit-oriented development around every transit node downtown. City Hall has to play a more active role in encouraging residential and retail development around bus and rapid transit stations. Transportation nodes should also be employment nodes, and getting Birmingham residents that rely on transit easily from their communities to employment centers is vital to connecting our residents to opportunity. As a part of a full review of the City zoning code, I would commission a Density Working Group comprised of City agencies, neighborhood leadership, developers and urban design experts to identify incentives like density bonuses and expedited zoning reviews for developments in close proximity to transit stops.
Engaging the Birmingham state delegation to advocate for mayoral term limits. Most major cities limit mayors to two four-year terms, and Birmingham should be no different. I would work with the Birmingham delegation to revive a proposal from 2012 that would establish term limits for the Mayor’s office.