Ivey announces plan to re-purpose old mining land in Birmingham

Published 1:42 pm Wednesday, February 20, 2019

On Wednesday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced a project that will establish the Grand River Technology Park and relocate the Southern Museum of Flight in Birmingham.

The project, launched as a collaborative effort between the Alabama Department of Labor’s (ADOL) Abandoned Mine Land (AML) program and U.S. Steel, as well as the Southern Museum of Flight, the cities of Birmingham and Leeds and Jefferson County, will have an $85 million impact on the Birmingham area.

“This reclamation project has the potential to bring millions of dollars in economic impact and hundreds of jobs to the Greater Birmingham area,” Ivey said in a press release.  “The new Grand River Technology Park will be a regional nexus for research and development, tourism and light manufacturing. This project will bring positive improvements to the citizens who call this community home.”

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U.S. Steel and its partners were approved for a grant through the AML Pilot Program in 2018 to develop the Grand River Technology Park, a “multiphase opportunity to reclaim and transform approximately 105 acres of undeveloped land surrounding and including several pre-1977 abandoned coal mine lands” in Jefferson County.

Approximately 1,200 new jobs are estimated to be created as a result of the project.

According to the press release, many of the land features previously reclaimed at the former mining sites include openings to underground mines and vertical portals for air shafts.

After the closure of the underground mines in 1948, a large portion of the area was strip-mined for coal until 1977, which left “extensive spoil piles” and a hazardous vertical bluff near the current location of Barber Motor Sports Park, known as a “highwall cut.”

These areas will be revitalized during the ongoing project.

“Our Abandoned Mine Land Program does a wonderful job in helping to ensure that old, dangerous mines are properly reclaimed, which eliminates safety hazards and allows the land to be re-developed,” said ADOL Secretary Fitzgerald Washington.  “In addition to cleaning up this site and making it safer, this project will help to improve the lives of many.”

To date, the AML program has reclaimed more than 81 miles of highwalls, eliminated more than 1,600 mine openings and completed roughly 660 reclamation projects in Alabama coalfields.