For Immediate Release...
Contact John L. Wathen
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 25, 2010
ALDOT TO COME CLEAN?
Local groups question a plan to run Eastern Bypass through Hurricane Creek
On October 26, 2010, the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) will hold
a public meeting in Tuscaloosa to present plans to run the “Eastern Bypass” through
Hurricane Creek, a federally protected waterway and one of the region’s most
beautiful and important natural assets. Several citizen groups, including The Friends
of Hurricane Creek, will attend the meeting in hopes ALDOT will reveal why they
have selected a plan that maximizes both construction costs and damage to the
ALDOT’s proposed route for the bypass cuts through Hurricane Creek’s “M•Bend,”
an historically significant and ecologically sensitive set of turns forming the heart of
the creek’s beautiful and unique identity. In the proposed design, this small yet
complex section of the creek is to be traversed by five bridges.
Though poor transportation planning has left officials with limited options to
connect the growing suburban communities of north Tuscaloosa directly to the
Interstate 20/59 corridor, there seems no reason why the Eastern Bypass (a fourlane
thoroughfare) must cut through the very heart of Hurricane Creek.
Ever since ALDOT’s plans were first unveiled in 1999, local groups have proposed
nearby alternate routes that are available, feasible, and that would minimize
damage to Hurricane Creek. These alternatives would reduce ALDOT’s need to
employ expensive techniques required for construction near protected waterways.
For just as long, however, state and local officials have refused to acknowledge the
merits or the very existence of these alternatives.
Mile for mile, the proposed Eastern Bypass will be the most expensive road ever
constructed in Tuscaloosa County. ALDOT has not said why the route must run
roughshod through Hurricane Creek, one of the area’s few remaining environmental
jewels. Local citizen’s groups will attend the public meeting in hopes that ALDOT
can solve this mystery of sorts.
The Friends of Hurricane Creek will be joined at the meeting by the Black Warrior
Riverkeeper and the Alabama Rivers Alliance. The meeting begins at 4:00 p.m. on
Tuesday, October 26, 2010, at Paul W. Bryant High School, in the gym. The Paul W.
Bryant High School is 6315 Mary Harmon Bryant Dr., Cottondale, Alabama.
For more information, contact John Wathen at email@example.com
Friends of Hurricane Creek
1999: ALDOT proposes to route Eastern Bypass through the heart of
Hurricane Creek. Files incomplete Environmental Impact
2001, March: Friends of Hurricane Creek present ALDOT with alternative routes
2001, July: Area residents raise concerns Bypass will bring noise and
2002, Jan.: ALDOT makes a mess of Bryant Bridge construction, risks major
sewerage spill into river. City of Tuscaloosa issues halt work
orders. ALDOT keeps working.
2002, July: ALDOT holds public meeing regarding Eastern Bypass.
Approximately 500 people attend, many with protest signs
warning of danger to Hurricane Creek.
2004: Friends of Hurricane Creek begin work to have land along
Hurricane Creek brought into a conservation easement program.
2005: Huge billboard erected alongside Bryant Bridge despite City of
2006, Sept.: Tuscaloosa News runs feature article “On the Edge of Extinction,”
highlighLng the Bypass’s threat to Creek area’s many rare plants
2006, Dec.: Sen. Richard Shelby and Mayor Walter Maddox ask ALDOT to
move Bypass to accommodate new residential development.
They do not request that Hurricane Creek be spared.
2007: Southern Environmental Law Center & Friends of Hurricane Creek
demand that ALDOT file a complete Environmental Impact
Statement regarding the Bypass.
2008, Jan.: 249 acres along Hurricane Creek sold to Trust for Public Lands
with understanding that Tuscaloosa Parks & Recreation Authority
(PARA) will acquire the land for a park.
2008, Sept.: PARA acquires land along Creek and opens it as a public park.
2010, Sept. 2: PARA sells 79 acres to ALDOT so Bypass can cut through Hurricane
Creek. ALDOT agrees to move other portions of route to
accommodate residential development.
2010, Sept. 10: Tuscaloosa News editorial headline says it all: “Hurricane Creek
2010, Oct. 26: As required, ALDOT holds a “Public Involvement Meeting” about
the Bypass. However, ALDOT permits no opportunity for the many
critics of the Bypass to speak.