Only on 12: Dothan Company Proposes Toll Road from Florida to Montgomery

Montgomery, Al. (WSFA) -- Governor Bob Riley has long said he'd welcome the idea of new interstate quality toll roads in Alabama.

Now it looks like a private company will take up the challenge with a mammoth billion dollar project from the Panhandle to the Wiregrass to Montgomery, with every mile privately owned.

Alabama has a problem a lot of states would love to have; a booming industrial economy and an increase in population.

But there's a snag in bringing in all this new business.

"Our senators and representatives do a great job of getting our fair share of transportation dollars down here. But if they doubled it, it still wouldn't take care of half of the needs we have in Alabama," said Governor Bob Riley, back in April 2007.

Riley and others say the answer to that dilemma is getting private companies to build interstate quality roads instead of the government.

The upside is faster construction times and less government red tape. The down side is that consumers will pay directly out of their pockets to drive.

Riley responded to a question about the possible toll road in Dothan Wednesday afternoon.

"It's going to take the participation of Governor Crist and the Florida Department of Transportation. But I think after the last couple of meetings, they have shown an increased interest in the project. We're not there yet, but we're closer than we have ever been," he said.

There are signs a private company is looking to undertake the huge project.

County commissioners in Washington County Florida published a notice for a public hearing in two weeks.

The agenda says a group called Focus 2000 wants to build a highway from Bay County to Montgomery.

A search of public records shows the company is based in Dothan, its registered agent a former manager of a major Alabama road building company.

His former employer told us they are aware of the project but have signed no contracts as of yet.

But it appears it's only a matter of making a formal announcement.

A state legislator familiar with the negotiations says some federal money will come to Alabama to help with the project.

WSFA 12 News reporter Chris Holmes left a couple of messages with Focus 2000's agent of record, a man named Steve Shaw, who lives in Dothan.

He never returned our calls.

We also asked Governor Riley's office for comment. They did not respond Wednesday evening.