Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Tuscaloosa Hosts Mayors of Five Largest Alabama Cities to Plan Summit for January

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Tuscaloosa Hosts Mayors of Five Largest Alabama Cities to Plan Summit for January

Article excerpt

The mayors of Alabama's five largest cities met in Tuscaloosa this weekend to discuss ongoing issues that continue to affect their respective communities.

These closed-door sessions were described Monday by the mayors of Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery and Huntsville, where each one said they've come to rely on the meetings as a way to better their respective cities.

"This is great for Alabama," Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox said Monday during a news conference at the downtown Embassy Suites hotel. "The gentlemen behind me, none of us believe that good is acceptable. We want great American cities.

"In our cities, average is not acceptable. These discussions help us become greater communities."

This meeting marked the sixth time the mayors have met since January 2014. Topics of this two-day summit included failing infrastructure, the battle against blight and how to effectively legislate ride sharing companies without infringing upon them or existing transportation companies.

Mayor William Bell of Birmingham, where city leaders are nearing an agreement with Uber, the popular ride-sharing company that briefly operated in Tuscaloosa, said he is in full support of the concept as part of improvements for "just people moving around."

"I think we're all committed to making sure that Uber has an opportunity to flourish and grow to provide needed additional transportation for our citizens," Bell said.

And Maddox, where Uber began operations at the start of the 2014 football season but had pulled out before November arrived, said he, too, supports the ride-sharing concept as long as the companies comply with the public safety requirements of municipalities.

"Uber, Lyft and other ride sharing companies are an important part of your economy and their an important part of the transportation network," Maddox said. "We certainly want them here in Tuscaloosa and feel that they would be an asset. …

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