Petition circulates to save Alabama’s Little Cahaba River

Little Cahaba River
Little Cahaba River [Photo via Care2 petition]

One concerned Alabama  resident has started a Care2 petition to stop the Alabama Department of Transportation’s (ALDOT) Cahaba Beach Road project, which would pave and widen of Cahaba Beach Road and construct of a two-lane bridge across the Little Cahaba River.

The new road would stretch across the Little Cahaba River from U.S. 280, allowing over 8,000 cars a day to travel across an environmentally sensitive area, and cost anywhere from $10 million to $20 million WBHM reported.

The Little Cahaba is a major tributary of the upper Cahaba River Basin watershed, which includes 190 miles of bluffs, shoals, and sharp ridges before entering the lower Cahaba Basin on the Coastal Plain. Now the ALDOT  and Shelby County wish to open Cahaba Beach Road, which has been closed to through traffic for two decades.

Doing so, they claim, will create more “connectivity,” which Cahaba Beach Road resident and petition creator  Trae Watson explains “would come at the direct expense of an undeveloped wilderness surrounding a source of Birmingham’s drinking water.”

“The Little Cahaba is a special jewel of peace and quiet that is enjoyed daily by bikers, hikers, educational youth groups, and plain folks seeking a moment of solace in their busy lives,” the petition reads.

“This road doesn’t solve traffic problems—it creates more. It would potentially send thousands of vehicles, including eighteen-wheelers, barreling through the surrounding neighborhoods. If it succeeds, this short-sighted idea will cause yet another special habitat to be lost for all generations to come,” the petition continues.

In signing, petitioners affirm:

  • No to routing 280 and Liberty Park traffic onto Cahaba Beach Road and other  already heavily traveled, curvy roads;
  • No to the risks posed by construction and traffic over the Little Cahaba which takes water from Lake Purdy to  feed the Cahaba River and Birmingham’s water supply;
  • No to jeopardizing TWO federally protected water cleaning mussel species in the river;
  • No to spending millions of dollars that Shelby County doesn’t have to create yet another traffic problem;
  • No to destroying the quiet wilderness of the Little Cahaba River which is enjoyed by countless citizens and  is one of the few remaining natural environments amidst the encroachment of urban sprawl.

The time of publishing, the petition had 922 supporters — 699 of them being from Alabama — of its 1,000 signature goal. Once complete, it will be shared with the Alabama Department of Transportation; Federal Highway Administration; Shelby County Commissioners Lindsey Allison and Rick Shepard; Alabama Senator Jabo Waggoner; Alabama Senator Mark Blackwell.