By Ryan Michaels
The Birmingham Times
U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, the lone Congressional member from Alabama to vote in favor of President Joe Biden $1 trillion infrastructure bill, said she will make sure constituents in her 7th Congressional District get their fair share of projects – including the City of Birmingham.
“My constituents and district…will get its top priorities,” said Sewell, while speaking alongside city and regional leaders Friday at the Birmingham Intermodal Facility downtown. “Frankly, other congressional members didn’t vote for it. I don’t see how their cities and their counties get priority over my cities and my counties.”
Alabama will receive approximately $6 billion from the infrastructure bill and on Friday Sewell, speaking at Birmingham’s transit hub on Morris Avenue with other leaders, focused on the $400 million Alabama is receiving for public transportation. The congresswoman said the country’s public transportation is behind the rest of the world.
“The reality is that we can and should do better in America,” she said. “When we go across the water, and we see rapid transit in China, rapid transit all across the world, and we don’t have local light rail, it’s unacceptable.”
Mayor Randall Woodfin said his desire for public transportation is “very simple.” “For those who have to get the work, they should be allowed to get to work on time. Those who need to get to their doctor’s appointment, they should be allowed to get to their doctor’s appointment on time…Citizens in this community should be able to get from point A to B in the most efficient way and on time because that’s what they deserve.”
Speaking before an audience that included Charlotte Shaw, CEO of the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority (BJCTA); Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson and Birmingham City Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, who also chairs the council’s Transportation Committee, Woodfin added that improving MAX transit matters outside in and outside of Birmingham.
“The people you see seated up here, to my left, right are really good people who care about how we build the quality of life for the citizens in this community, not just the city, but as the sign says, Metro Area Express,” Woodfin said. “This is regional in nature.”
Shaw said the infrastructure bill funds will allow BJCTA to expand services “like we have never done before.” The infrastructure funds, Shaw said, are simply the beginning of growing transit in the city.
“All the other things that may have happened in the past, the past is the past,” Shaw said. “The future is our hope, our growth, our opportunities, the things that we can do together as a city.”