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Avondale’s 41st Street poised to be among Birmingham’s first Complete Streets projects

A safer way forward is coming to Avondale! Blending the needs of drivers, cyclists and pedestrians with aesthetic needs and community input will create a more vibrant community for Avondale residents and business owners. 

The City of Birmingham has retained EDT, Inc. and Macknally Land Design to undertake a Complete Streets redesign of the main corridor of the Avondale Commercial District. The redesign of 41st Street between 1st and 5th Ave S. will be a significant asset for this evolving neighborhood.  

About two years ago, the Forest Park South Avondale Business Association contacted Lea Ann Macknally and her team to help conduct neighborhood connectivity studies; the partners then presented an improvement plan that included the 41st Street redesign to the City of Birmingham – before the city’s Complete Streets ordinance was in the works. 

The city had already acquired funding for general improvements to the Avondale corridor, so the 41st Street project is the first Complete Streets project to ask for community involvement after the Birmingham City Council unanimously approved the ordinance March 6. The plan aims to improve pedestrian, cycling and vehicular circulation in the core of Avondale’s commercial district. In addition, the scope of work will include more efficient parking and enhanced streetscaping as well as storm water management and flood mitigation for the significant flooding problem in the area. 

“One of the primary goals of this project was being sure it met Complete Streets standards and contributed to businesses and connection to the community,” said Macknally. “It was a well-timed coincidence that it has been running a similar parallel path with the passing of Birmingham’s Complete Streets Ordinance.”  

While the chief Complete Streets objectives of enhancing connectivity and accessibility will most certainly be addressed in 41st Street improvements, the design and engineering team will lead the charge of incorporating community opinion into the design and implementation. The team has also been coordinating with utility companies to ensure the infrastructure allows for wider lanes and sidewalks as well as bike accessibility.  

“41st Street is a perfect starting point for Complete Streets,” said Keith Rawls, director of Zyp Bikeshare, which is an initiative of REV. “We are excited to see easier access and deeper intent around bike transportation in the heart of Avondale, where one of Zyp’s most highly used stations is located. Zyp’s goal is to make the healthy, active choice the easy choice, and Complete Streets allows that.”

Through this project, the Macknally Land Design team hopes to contribute to Avondale’s burgeoning renaissance by making the historic district more accessible. 

“We want to give residents and business owners the front door to the community they deserve,” said Macknally. 

A public meeting to consider options for improvements will be held March 20 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Saturn. Community members are urged to attend and give their feedback on the design draft and share their ideas for the project. Another meeting for comprehensive plan discussion will take place at a later date. 

Updated to include that 41st Street is the first Complete Streets project to ask for community involvement after the ordinance was passed. 

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