Proposed train service from Birmingham to Shelby Co., Montgomery


If you hate rush hour driving on I-65, state planners may have a solution. They're considering a passenger rail system, stopping in several cities, along the way to Birmingham. Monday, mayors in Shelby County met to talk about the possibilities. There are several proposals from the "Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs." One restores the Gulf Breeze Amtrak service {}to Mobile. Another runs along the I-65 corridor. But the one most cities south of town seem to be the most excited about is the proposal to stop in Hoover, Alabaster, Pelham, Calera and Montgomery."I've always seen pictures in this town that talks about Calera being a railroad town years ago," Mayor Jon Graham, Calera said.That early 20th Century feel may be rolling back into town."It's a cost effective way to commute and it would obviously lessen the amount of traffic on I-65," Graham said."Communities our size are already doing something like this so it looks like it's time and maybe this is the impetus that we can take some positive steps," Kirk Mancer, President and CEO, Shelby County Chamber of Commerce said.The proposal {}puts three daily North bound trains and three South bound trains on the tracks. Running from Montgomery to Birmingham with stops in Shelby County cities."It will be one of the top ten fastest growing counties in the nation," Mancer said.The Shelby County Chamber of Commerce says the {}growth is tremendous and having a faster way of getting around would attract more people to move South of the city where cost of living is low."If you were to drive down here during rush hour and what not it does bottle up when you go from three lanes down to two, so certainly taking a look at anything they could do to alleviate that congestion," Mancer said.And Calera is one of the fastest growing cities in the state..."This being a railroad town, it's really interesting to me," Graham said.Mayor Jon Graham says the train proposal would not only encourage growth, but even spur new business."I think it's a different concept for us down South and it's something that should catch on," Graham said.We also spoke with the Deptment{}of Economic and Community Affairs- who initiated the project. The division chief told us the feasibility study is almost complete. They're looking at costs, benefits, and surveying 600 residents. The final report will be released next month.