In June and July, more than 300 people answered survey questions about Birmingham history for our game show, Can You Repeat That? We covered the top five answers at the show. Here, week by week, we will publish the results of the other 20 questions.
The Northern Beltline is the proposed $4.5 billion highway that would complete the interstate bypass of Birmingham begun with the I-459 bypass to the south. It is projected to be the most expensive road in state history, when finished—in 2048. This Birmingham News
map shows the route of the 52-mile corridor and first 2-mile section under construction.
Out of 245 responses, 34 answered with the literal but neutral BYPASS or ENCIRCLE. Yes, the beltline will bypass Birmingham. However, counting the more emotionally charged responses, the top answer fell to the general category of HARM (also, RUIN, HURT, DESTROY, etc.) with 41 or 17% of all answers, followed at #2 with 36 responses in the positive category of HELP (IMPROVE, or BENEFIT).
Next, at #3 with 21 responses, was the more specific positive response, EXPAND, while nearly the same number of responders (20) held the exact opposite view, choosing to fill in the blank with words like DRAIN, WEAKEN, DIMINISH, and DIVIDE to describe the beltline’s ultimate effect. In the same negative vein comes the even more specific negative response, with 15 saying the beltline will ROB or BANKRUPT the city.
The remaining answers show 10 respondants think the project will invigorate the economy and clear unwanted truck traffic from downtown while others suspect the project will A) Never be finished, B) Will be confusing, or C) Have no impact. Only three people chose the word POLLUTE to describe the project’s environmental impact.