NORTHPORT, AL (WBRC) -
The first in a series of meetings around Alabama, focused on the state's transportation and infrastructure needs, is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 7, at 10 a.m., at Northport City Hall.
Members of the Alabama Legislature's Joint Transportation Committee are holding the meeting, and the public is invited. Transportation, government and economic leaders will also attend.
The goal of the meeting is for members of the Joint Transportation Committee to get input on local needs, related to transportation infrastructure.
Jason Walker, a Tuscaloosa-based civil engineer, who is also a member of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama's Executive Committee, believes the discussion about transportation is essential to Alabama's economic future.
"This is really, I think, a discussion about that, and just making sure that the infrastructure is in place to further facilitate the next 'Mercedes,'
and the next opportunities, in terms of industrial development," Walker said. "But also, just quality of life. Sitting in traffic, waiting to get your kids to practices, get them to school, or go shopping, whatever it may be."
"It's a global thing, in terms of the country, but it's definitely down at a state level, and it affects individual communities and their ability to keep, in some cases, but especially recruit new businesses."
A new group, called the Alliance for Alabama's Infrastructure, is exploring options to increase revenue for statewide road systems. AAI members will be in attendance at all of the Joint Transportation Committee's upcoming meetings.
"Alabama's population has grown by 20 percent over the past 25 years, rising from four million residents to 4.8 million," Jim Page, Alliance member and president and chief executive officer of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, said in a release. "With such impressive growth comes the need for additional jobs, high performing schools, and safe and efficient roads and bridges."
Page said Alabama's investment in its transportation systems has not kept pace with its growth.
"We must find a way to manage our infrastructure and find long-term solutions for transportation funding challenges that currently lead to dangerous road conditions, increased traffic congestion and potential employers questioning our ability to transport their goods," Page said.
Following the Northport meeting, the Joint Transportation Committee has meetings scheduled this month in Montevallo, Huntsville, Mobile, and Dothan.