By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The construction of the Northern Beltline in Jefferson County is expected to enhance cross-region accessibility, create jobs and stimulate economic growth. Thousands of construction jobs will be created to build the new interstate connecting I-59 near Deerfoot in Trussville with I-59/I-20 near the I-459 junction west of Bessemer.
The project will bring new housing and businesses to northern Jefferson County and 41 governing bodies have passed resolutions supporting the Northern Beltline.
Not everyone however is happy with the project. Radical environmental groups have opposed the project due to concerns about water runoff from the project.
JobKeeper Alliance, a job-focused nonprofit organization is concerned that the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) will try to use a federal lawsuit the group filed over 30 months ago to block the start of construction on the Northern Beltline, which Governor Robert Bentley ® has recently announced will begin in early 2014.
Governor Bentley said, “We’re committed to building the Northern Beltline in the most environmentally responsible way possible.”
In 2011, the SELC filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Black Warrior Riverkeeper claiming that ALDOT inadequately assessed the potential environmental impact of the proposed highway.
JobKeeper Alliance has been a vocal supporter of the job-creating highway project. On Wednesday JobKeeper announced that it believes SELC filed the lawsuit to delay the project while the law firm and Black Warrior Riverkeeper attempted to erode public support for the Northern Beltline through an aggressive PR campaign focusing on the cost of the project.
The Executive Director of JobKeeper Alliance Patrick Cagle said, “The fact that this project is supported by the vast majority of elected officials, including Governor Bentley, is a clear sign that the public has rejected SELC’s claims. Our concern is that SELC will now try to use the federal court system to accomplish their goal of killing the Northern Beltline; disregarding the will of our state’s leaders.”
Jobkeeper Alliance says that it is highly likely that the SELC will try to use their lawsuit to block the start of construction on the Northern Beltline. The Alliance says it would be wrong for the environmental law firm to block the more than 1,300 initial jobs that will be created when construction starts on the highway project.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said in a written statement, “The Northern Beltline will support economic development and additional job creation in Jefferson County. It will link all the Interstates in the county, and it will increase accessibility to several communities. New industries look for modern infrastructure and convenient access when considering locations to build and create jobs. The Northern Beltline will spur economic growth and benefit drivers and residents throughout Jefferson County.”
Construction of the first phase of the project is a 1.34 mile portion between State Highway 75 and State Highway 79 in northeast Jefferson County. This portion is expected to be completed in five to six years. The Northern Beltline will be built entirely with federal funds. The state will not even have to contribute matching funds thus the project does not divert limited state highway resources away from other projects and priorities.
JobKeeper Alliance is a 501c(4) alliance formed between the business community and labor. ne. Environemental extremists have delayed the project through appeals.
To receive updates on the Northern Beltline you can visit the new website: