County experts talk more money for roads and bridges

County experts talk more money for roads, bridges

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -Driving in traffic, running over a pothole or facing road closures. These are issues many Alabamians experience on the roads today, and county experts met Thursday in Montgomery to discuss why they need more money to repair roads.

“Our infrastructure has really gotten to the critical stage. We’re actually looking at some 60 year old roads that we are thinking of cutting back to dirt or gravel," said Henry County Probate Judge David Money.

This is a story echoed by many experts across the state.

“The conditions are such that they have to take alternate routes to get to get their children to and from school," said Alabama Transportation Institute Outreach Director Justice Smyth.

The Association of County Commissions of Alabama Legislative Committee held the meetings and comprised of representatives from all 67 counties in Alabama.

“The consensus from everyone is that we cannot continue to maintain our road and bridge system in a safe condition, to promote economic development, to provide safe transportation for school buses, log trucks, farmers and those kinds of things unless we have additional revenue,” said Association of County Commissions of Alabama Executive Director Sonny Brasfield.

One familiar idea to bring in revenue is the gas tax. The last time the state gas tax was raised was in 1992.

“The more you drive, the more fuel you use the more you would pay for the privilege to drive on the roads and then contribute to repairs, that’s the most direct way,” Brasfield said.

Money said giving up less than a hamburger a month can help pay for a four to eight cents per gallon gas tax increase. It could bring in $10 million to help pave 60 to 70 miles of roads.

The American Society of Civil Engineers gave rankings for roads and bridges.

State Bridges Roads
Alabama C- D+
Arkansas C+ D+
Florida B C
Georgia C- C-
Louisiana D+ D
North Carolina C- C
Tennessee B C+
Texas B D

Brasfield said there was a bridge replacement program in 2000 and the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program that helped address large county road problems.

“Our real problem now is dealing with roads that have not been touched," he said.

Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh put together a task force collecting data about roads and bridges in the state. A 2018 February presentation said county road and bridge needs have grown to $559 million annually since 2010.

The Association of County Commissions of Alabama said it will focus on a gasoline and fuel tax when the session begins in March. Cities are allowed to pass a gas tax but counties are not. To raise the gas tax, it would need to go through the state legislature.

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