Governor Ivey Announces Grand River Technology Park Project with $85 Million Impact Coming to Birmingham

Press Releases
Posted on February 20, 2019

BIRMINGHAM – Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Labor’s Abandoned Mine Land Program (ADOL AML) along with United States Steel Corporation (U. S. Steel) announced on Wednesday the new Grand River Technology Park project and relocation of the Southern Museum of Flight.

This project is a collaborative effort and includes participation by Alabama Department of Labor’s AML Program, U. S. Steel, the City of Birmingham, the Southern Museum of Flight, Jefferson County, and the City of Leeds.

“This reclamation project has the potential to bring millions of dollars in economic impact, and hundreds of jobs to the Greater Birmingham area,” Governor Ivey said.  “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.”

In 2018, U. S. Steel and its community partners were given approval for a $6 million grant by the ADOL AML Pilot Program toward the development of its Grand River Technology Park. The Grand River Technology Park represents a multiphase opportunity to reclaim and transform approximately 105 acres of undeveloped land surrounding and including several pre-1977 abandoned coal mine lands in east Jefferson County. The initial assessment of this project conservatively estimates that 1,200 new employment opportunities that could generate more than an $85 million impact in the Greater Birmingham Metropolitan area would be achieved.

Dangerous abandoned mine land features previously reclaimed on the property included many portals (openings to old underground coal mines) and vertical openings (former air shafts associated with underground coal mines) connected with Red Diamond Mines #2 – #5, #7, #9, #11, and #12, as well as the former Tennessee Coal and Iron (TCI) Mine #6, all of which ceased operations in 1948. After the closure of the underground mines, a major portion of proposed development was strip-mined for coal prior to August 3, 1977, leaving extensive spoil piles (waste rock and soil overburden removed to access the coal seam) on the property and a highwall cut (a hazardous vertical bluff left where mining of the coal seam ceased) adjacent to the current location of the Barber Motor Sports Park. The highwall cut and spoil piles remain in evidence on the property today. As part of the redevelopment of the property, extensive reclamation will be performed on the remaining spoil piles situated on-site.

“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 Fitzgerald Washington, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Labor.  “In addition to cleaning up this site and making it safer, this project will help to improve the lives of many.”

“We are pleased to see the redevelopment of this land. We are grateful for the partnership of Governor Ivey, Secretary Washington, and the AML staff during this process and thank Senator Shelby for securing AML Pilot grant funds. We look forward to providing quality economic and community development projects that will benefit the Birmingham community,” U. S. Steel President and CEO David B. Burritt said.

To date, the ADOL AML Program has reclaimed 81.6 miles of dangerous highwalls, eliminated 1,613 dangerous mine openings, and completed approximately 661 reclamation projects in the coalfields of Alabama. For more information on the ADOL AML Program, or abandoned mine land reclamation in general, please visit https://ourworksnotdone.org  and https://www.labor.alabama.gov/Inspections/Mining/reclamation.aspx.

The AML Pilot Program Grant is derived from monies appropriated from the U.S. Treasury with the focus on the reclamation of abandoned mine lands coupled with the economic development of coal impacted communities in the Alabama coalfields. To qualify, these economic development projects must be located on or adjacent to coal mine sites that ceased operations prior to the signing of the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) on August 3, 1977.  U.S. Senator Richard Shelby has played a significant role in securing this funding. Counties eligible for projects include Bibb, Blount, Cherokee, Cullman, DeKalb, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Shelby, St. Clair, Tuscaloosa, Walker, and Winston.

The Pilot Grant funding, provided by the federal government, is being administered by ADOL AML and all funding must be approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE).

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