America faces a crisis of epic proportions over its infrastructure. Over time, cars have gotten higher gas mileage. Also, gas prices are too high for some people to travel. These reasons are why the gas tax collection, which pays for the infrastructure, are down by big numbers. Lawmakers are currently in a non-stop battle over which party and thinking is better for the country. This means the funding to maintain our roads and bridges will never get better anytime soon. In Alabama, ALDOT has had a history of wasting massive amounts of money on road projects.
In Mobile County, the US 98 4-laning project has spent over $86 million dollars for a bridge and 4-lane highway to nowhere. The project is over a decade old and ALDOT had to be sued by the Mobile Baykeeper group to stop silt from polluting Big Creek Lake which is Mobile’s water supply. After ALDOT went back to correct the silt problems, they now have funding problems which stops them from finishing the work. It could take another decade to finish the work.
In Huntsville, some badly needed work to improve the roads have been put on the backburner. ALDOT sent a letter to the Huntsville mayor saying that several major road projects will be delayed because of lack of funding. Several projects needed in the Hunstville Metro includes Memorial Parkway overpasses at Lily Flagg and Bryd Spring roads; extending Interstate 565 through the Moores Mill Road and Shields Road intersections; a new Parkway overpass at Mastin Lake Road. Some of these projects have been pushed back as late as 2025.
And in Birmingham, ALDOT is wanting to spend up to $4.7 billion, or $90 million per mile on building the Northern Beltline or future I-422. Backers say the Northern Beltine will pump up to $7 billion into the state’s economy. Backers also say the highway will create 70,000 new jobs and generate nearly $155 million in new tax revenues during the 21-year construction phase alone. So let’s get this right, ALDOT is wanting to spend billions of dollars while other roads and bridges that needs badly needed work will go without work? I consider the Northern Beltline as something that is not needed. I have a much better solution, why not build a new highway north of downtown to replace I-20 / I-59 through downtown Birmingham?
Sadly, ALDOT has had a rough history with misusing road construction and taxpayer funds. And nothing will change within ALDOT until major changes occur within the department. Another example of waste from ALDOT has occurred in Tuscaloosa. ALDOT had to clean up septic tanks left open after homes were bought by ALDOT and torn down after the April 2011 tornadoes.
Many road geeks across the country have a lot of bad things to say about ALDOT. Road geeks complained when the speed limit on over 40 miles of Interstate 20 was lowered to 55 because a women got killed when a piece of the road when through her windshield.
Many road geeks also wants ALDOT to re-design Malfunction Junction or the I-65 and I-20 / I-59 junction. Some say this interchange is one of the worst designed in the country. With two major bridge fires and the left-hand exits, they could be right!
With declining revenues for our highways. ALDOT and the Alabama Road Builders Association are wanting to do something drastic. They are in support of the U.S. Tolling Coalition, this group wants Congress to allow states to toll existing Interstate highways. ALDOT wants to toll the Interstate highways in Alabama to replace falling fuel tax revenues. My only worry is how much money will ALDOT misuse if they get the chance to toll Interstate highways and other highways? Learn more about the U.S. Tolling Coalition at: http://ustollingcoalition.com/
If ALDOT is looking for ways to transform into a superior DOT. They need to look at the Transportation For America organization. This group believes that all bridges should be rated safe and roads are maintained so that drivers and businesses waste less on vehicle repairs. They believe that people should have multiple ways to get to work or school via roads, sidewalks, buses, light rail, bike path, etc. And that projects are built, not for political reasons, but because they get people where they need to go, making America stronger economically and improve energy security, safety and health. Learn more about T4 America at: http://t4america.org
The Alabama State Constitution of 1901 states that ALDOT can not spend any money on mass transit. ALDOT can only spend money on roads and highways. This has got to change! Road geeks and other people are getting tired of the problems over at ALDOT, things must change or Alabama will continue to stay behind because of the corruption from within ALDOT. I am thinking about starting the project called Redo AL’S Roads. Yep, this project would be in support for better roads, mass transit, bicycling options, and other transportation options than what ALDOT currently provides. I think this is something badly needed in Alabama!
- Roadscapes Wednesday: Why The Interstate 20/59 Bridge Replacement Is Wrong (geekalabama.com)
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- Roadscapes Wednesday: The I-459 Grooved Pavement Experience (geekalabama.com)