CED

September 2014

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22 | www.cedmag.com | Construction Equipment Distribution | September 2014 Public Policy would cause additional years of delay. So, ALDOT had to live with its promises while the no-growth groups could back out and be "neutral." We have counseled ALDOT not to be tricked again and they agree. They now know that no one group speaks for all of them. But, as a whole, these groups believe our current laws are not tough enough. Their vision is for every rain drop to be captured where it falls. They are terrified of post-road construction because they believe the government will not hold the land developers to our current laws. So, they claim their rivers are "fragile" to activate their base support. When challenged on rivers being fragile, they admit their concerns are not chemical but sediment. So, they are worried about our streams and rivers getting dirt in them. And their answer is to stop all construction to limit the possibility of extra sediment. Thirty years ago, I would not swim in our local river, the Cahaba; today I would. These groups give no credit to how much better our environment is; they simply want to stop any new construction by claiming all construction hurts our environment. They are wrong. Also, these no-growth groups will argue against any project for nonenvironmental reasons. They created studies that showed only 1-3 percent of our traffic through downtown Birmingham would use the Beltline. This is nonsense! They argued different road projects were more important in our county and so the money should be better spent elsewhere. They argued the total cost of the project simply was too high and not a good investment. They also argued all the landowners adjacent to the project would get rich with future development. So when all environmental concerns were addressed by ALDOT, the no-growths simply turned to other argu- ments to try and stop the road. An Enemy We Can Beat I did not know the true nature of the no-growth groups when I joined CRT four-and-a-half years ago. These groups are the newest enemy and potentially greatest foe of equipment distributors and our customers. You have to engage in your local communities and face them head on. They can be defeated, but it takes time, money and focus. I mentioned governmental apathy. Under our previous governors, the DOT had no desire to build this interstate. The department had received all federal permits to start this road in 1997 and chose not to begin. This inaction caused the authorization of the original Environmental Impact Study (predecessor to the 'Reevaluation') by the federal highways administration in Washington to lapse. Our group called on Washington and through our efforts got the road reauthorized. It took six years for Alabama and Washington to perfect this document, which went from 306 pages to 1,480 pages. So, govern- mental apathy caused huge delays in our start. I learned the environmental review process starts over every three years if work does not begin. And the requirements grow more difficult because of regulations every year. My message to you is to be sure your transportation department wants to do the project. If not, you are dead in the water. They must work for the project or they can hide behind all local, state and federal rules and regulations or lack of funds to stop a project. Alabama was fortunate to elect Governor Robert Bentley three years ago. He set the tone with his appointment of John Cooper and his department followed his orders. We were also fortunate to have all of our senators and congress- men in favor of this interstate. Our Washington team kept our project alive as budget cuts were administered. Our federal elected officials were all in our camp and critical to our success. Be sure yours are also. ("Right of Way" continued from page 21) The first shovels of dirt have been turned, signaling the begin- ning of construction on the long-awaited Northern Beltline. Another view of the project's early work through hilly terrain.

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