TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - Several Tuscaloosa-area state legislators support the idea of raising the tax on gas to pay for infrastructure improvements around Alabama.
They shared their thoughts with us earlier this month during Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox’s legislative breakfast.
″I’m honestly shocked that out of all the crisis situations that we’re facing, the one we’ve decided to increase the tax for are roads and bridges," State Representative Chris England of Tuscaloosa said.
He believes the mood has changed among many state legislators when it comes to increasing the state tax drivers pay for gas.
England wasn’t alone in saying the time had come to improve state roads and bridges.
“I am very supportive of looking at a gas tax because currently our funds are just in our maintenance program,” State Sen. Gerald Allen said.
“We have to maintain our infrastructure to the best of our capability. We’re falling behind,” State Representative Bill Poole added.
He said 7,500 bridges, or nearly half the bridges in Alabama maintained by the state, are more than 50 years old. They have a lifespan up to 75 years.
“Over 2,500 of them are low posted. So school buses, trucks, tractors, dairy equipment, so one and so forth. Freight can’t cross those bridges, which is a big economic issue and a safety issue around our state," Poole said.
The legislature has to decide will they raise enough money to just maintain current roads and bridges or build brand new ones. Expect discussions to continue when the 2019 Alabama legislative session begins in about two weeks.