Alabama Roads & Bridges are Bad – and Getting Worse, Legislators Hear
The Future of Alabama's Roads

Alabama Roads & Bridges are Bad – and Getting Worse, Legislators Hear

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By Lance Griffin via the Dothan Eagle

A select Alabama legislative committee has been touring the state to hear from people about the condition of Alabama’s roads and bridges.

The committee made its fourth of five stops Thursday in Dothan and heard a familiar refrain.

The state’s roads and bridges are bad, and getting worse.

Here is a sample of comments from the 20+ speakers:

  • Houston County Commission Chairman Mark Culver: “In 1989 it cost $35,000 to pave one mile of county roads. Today, it costs $125,000. We stand at a critical time.”
  • Henry County Commission Chairman David Money: “We cannot afford to resurface, so what we find ourselves doing is patching the patches. We’re quickly reaching the point where we’re forced to decide if we want to continue to patch the patches, or do we just cut it back to a dirt road. Some of our neighboring counties have already had to do this.”
  • Geneva County Engineer Justin Barfield: “After salaries, equipment costs, maintenance, fuel and patching, my budget is at zero. I would love to stop apologizing to people and telling them we’re sorry. I would love to tell them ‘Yes, we can help you.”
  • Dale County Engineer Derek Brewer: “All we do is patch off-system roads. That’s all we can do.”

It isn’t as if the committee only recently became enlightened to the deteriorating state of roads in Alabama. In essence, the committee has been touring the state to see if there is support for a gas tax.

More than 20 speakers lobbied for a gas tax Thursday during the packed meeting held at the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce. Only a spokesperson for gas stations and convenience stores took a different approach. He raised a concern that motorists may bypass convenience stores in certain towns and counties that have chosen to have a local gas tax.

Otherwise, commissioners and engineers said they believed a gas tax would be supported, if the tax was reasonable and the plan for its use was specific and fair.

“We’ve demonstrated a very real need. Now, we have to develop and share with our citizens a clear and concise plan for how every dollar will be spent, including specific road numbers and the type of work to be done, as well as periodic updates on the status of each project,” Money said.

There is no current bill that shares those specifics. Committee chairman Rep. Mac McCutcheon, R-Capshaw, said he may be prepared to file a bill next week.

The current state gasoline tax is 16 cents a gallon, along with a 2 cent inspection fee used for transportation. An additional 12 cents per gallon could be proposed in the bill, although McCutcheon said no final decision has been made. An additional 12 cents would raise an estimated $396 million.

Rep Paul Lee, R-Dothan, said it is important that the tax doesn’t cause gasoline prices to exceed those in Florida or Georgia.

“Where I am, where my district borders two other states, we have to be careful to see what Georgia and Florida are doing. If we’re not careful we see people driving across the state line and we don’t want that.”

Florida’s state gas tax is 36 cents per gallon. Georgia’s state gas tax is slightly more than 28 cents per gallon.

The committee’s final meeting will be next week in Decatur. The Legislature is expected to have a bill on the floor to consider during the upcoming regular session.

 

Comment (1)

  • Edward mccollough - 03/14/2016

    County roads in Hale county in very bad condition, county rd 16, 35,and 10’