Red Mountain Roadcut Restoration Project
APS is beginning discussions with the Alabama Dept of Transportation and the City of Birmingham to try to renovate the Red Mountain Road Cut and the Geological Walkway located on the east side of the Cut so that it can be used for earth science field trips by schools, colleges and universities and professional societies of geologists.
BACKGROUND: Mining began on the Red Mountain Road cut in 1963 eventually exposing an unparalleled sequence of strata that caught the attention of geologists across the country. During their studies on the exposed rock layers while the Expressway was still being completed, UAB geologist Denny Bearce and others became aware that the entire road cut was about to be covered with shotcrete/gunite during the final stages of completon. They mounted a campaign protesting this unnecessary cover-up of an important geological feature and eventually the shotcrete operation was halted by none other than Governor George Wallace. In 1975 with a groundswell of local and municipal support, ground was broken for a science museum, the Red Mountain Museum, which was located on the east side of the Cut and focused on the geology and paleontology/paleogeography of Alabama. Unfortunately, eventually the Museum’s funding became inadequate to permit it to continue operations, and its by then extensive fossil collection was transferred to the new McWane Science Center located on 2nd Avenue North in the City center where much of it is on display today. While the Red Mountain Museum was in operation, a geological Walkway was constructed on the second terrace of the east side of the Cut with an access walkway from the Museum permitting science classes and museum field trips close-up access to one of the most important geological features in North America.
Currently the Cut has become sadly overgrown with vegetation and the geological Walkway has fallen into disrepair making it generally unavailable for earth science classes. APS is working with ALDOT and the City of Birmingham to try to make the Cut and the Walkway again a feature that our local citizens can be proud of, allowing it again to serve as an outstanding educational resource for students of geology and paleontology not only for our State but for educational programs across the country.
•Permitted further cleanup of roadside and walkway by private groups (e.g. Alabama Paleontological Society, Inc) and possibly by commercial contractors if funding can be obtained.
•Restoration of fences and gates and new signage if funding can be secured.
•Agreement with St Rose Academy and the City and ALDOT to permit access by earth science classes and museums (e.g. McWane Science Center and Alabama Museum of Natural History) with liability releases and hard hats required.
Here are a few images of the past and present (older images courtesy of the McWane Science Center):