By Ken Lass
TRUSSVILLE — The expansion of Trussville has been a hot topic lately. It seems as though everyone wants to move here, but once they get here, they don’t want anyone else to move here.
And I totally get that. I’ve been stuck in gridlocked traffic my share of times. During busy periods, I am held hostage in my car at the exit to my subdivision, unable to turn left or right onto Highway Eleven. Where are all these cars coming from? Where are they going? Why aren’t they on the Interstate?
It’s understandable that folks would be upset at proposed annexations and huge new residential developments. They can only mean more people, more traffic, possible environmental threats to surrounding communities and more pressure on our schools. The Trussville Tribune has reported that, according to the 2020 census, the population of Trussville exploded at a rate of thirty-one percent over the last decade. Our sleepy little bedroom town is now a bustling city, replete with all the complications that come with such growth.
But it bears keeping in mind that, were it not for that influx, we would not have had the parade of new stores and restaurants, an expansion of our public library, a greenway along the Cahaba, a new entertainment district, and soon, a new administration building for our school system, and much more. Traffic headaches aside, for the most part we enjoy a great quality of life. Our schools, police and fire departments and recreation facilities are top notch. We have become a shopping hub for all of northeast Birmingham.
Yet we have to face an inescapable reality. In today’s society, you’re either growing or you’re declining. There’s no staying the same. The cost of maintaining the excellence of our schools and other critical city services is certainly not staying the same. It’s going up. To meet that increase, there are three alternatives. (1) Welcome new home owners and businesses who will contribute additional tax revenue. (2) Discourage growth and raise taxes sharply on current residents. (3) Keep taxes the same and, as costs rise, cut funding and budgets.
Options two and three are a recipe for disaster. We all know of communities where over burdened taxpayers and/or underfunded services have created deterioration of safety, health and property value. No one wants that.
Without a doubt, the traffic situation needs to be addressed, but it’s a major challenge. It’s unlikely the widening of existing streets is enough to solve the problem. The ultimate answer is probably new roads. Those will be extremely expensive, slow to happen, and quite possibly out of the realm and control of local government. In the meantime, the mayor and city officials have been working on rerouting and widening where possible to try and provide some relief.
While future growth must be embraced, it must also be carefully and meticulously controlled and monitored. Fortunately, in the effort to preserve our quality of life, Trussville has a secret weapon. Its people. There’s a reason folks want to move here. We are a friendly and polite place with the kind of values that are getting harder to find elsewhere in this crazy world. With patient persistence, we can overcome our challenges.
We can, and we will.
Ken Lass is a retired former Birmingham television news and sports anchor, and Trussville resident since 1989. You can read more from Ken at kenlassblog.net