Tuscaloosa Mayor and gubernatorial hopeful, Democrat Walt Maddox unveiled his strategic plan for rebuilding the state’s infrastructure on Wednesday.
“Roads and bridges carry much more than just families in cars and cargo in trucks, they are the pathways for the economic engines that support job and wage growth,” Maddox said on his website. “Unfortunately, Alabama bridges receive a grade of C- from the American Society of Civil Engineers, and our roads earn a dismal D+. These embarrassing grades mean that 20% of Alabama’s bridges are in urgent need of improvement and our roads rate as ‘poor & at risk.'”
According to Maddox, every Alabama driver pays over $320 per year in extra vehicle operating costs due to deficient roads. And the average household loses $3,400 per year in economic opportunities due to our deteriorating transportation infrastructure, a number expected to grow to more than $5,000 annually by 2025.
“Corporate executives rank highway accessibility as the number two factor in site selection. Manufacturing plants, industrial facilities, and large commercial operations simply won’t locate in areas that have poor roads and bridges because it puts their businesses at risk,” Maddox explained.
“Almost one million full-time jobs in Alabama’s key industries, such as tourism, trucking, retail sales, agriculture, and manufacturing, are completely dependent on the transportation network. For every dollar invested in roads and bridges, we see a return on investment of $5.20 in reduced maintenance costs, fewer delays, lower fuel consumption, improved safety, and reduced emissions. When we add the economic benefit of more jobs, increased wages, and reduced road replacement costs in the future, that benefit jumps to as high as $14 returned for each dollar spent.”
Which is why he’s called for investment in a plan created by the Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure — a grassroots advocacy coalition that promotes financially-responsible investment in Alabama’s roads and infrastructure — to fix Alabama’s “crumbling roads and bridges.”
“The Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure has long advocated for addressing this crisis by identifying financially responsible investments, reforms, and long-term solutions. Their common sense approach to facing the truth and acting on the facts provides a blueprint to get Alabama out of the potholes we’ve dug for ourselves,” said Maddox. “I support the Alliance’s plan to address Alabama’s critical infrastructure needs. That means we have to face the truth about Alabama’s infrastructure funding, but a vast majority of Alabamians, when educated about the facts, agree that the Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure plan will pay dividends to the entire state.”
Alabama currently has one of the lowest gas taxes in the country, but the state also has some of the worst roads in the country.
“You get what you pay for,” explained Chip Hill, Maddox’s Communications Director.
He says Maddox supports a gas tax to support funding infrastructure needs; “Walt supports the Alliance for Alabama Infrastructure/BCA plan, which echoes the findings of a 2015 PARCA study that a 12 cent per gallon increase is the most practical route to fixing our infrastructure issues.”
But Maddox believes the gas tax will only be a viable short-term solution as “it is irresponsible to fund highway projects with a revenue source that will be evaporating in the years ahead as vehicles become less dependent on gasoline and other fossil fuels.” Which is why he says the state “must research ways to maintain revenues as the use of hybrid and electric vehicles expands.”
Maddox says in order to be transparent as governor, he will post every dollar invested in road and bridge improvements online. He also intends to present an infrastructure plan identifying specific projects in advance of all legislative sessions in which appropriations will be made, so the Alabamians know where and how their money is being spent.
“Fixing our crumbling roads and bridges is unquestionably a critical need for Alabama. If we are going to march strongly forward through this 21st century economy, we must leverage every asset to bring more jobs and make our roadways safer. The foundation for improving Alabama is a transportation system that is a source of pride instead of shame, and under my administration we will take this critical step forward,” Maddox concluded.Read on ALToday.com