Road fund debate ending?

Published 8:03 pm Friday, January 29, 2010

Discussions have continued this week in the Alabama State Senate over a road and bridge construction bill that could mean additional funds to a struggling Pike County Road Department.

The legislation, initiated by Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, would allow for the withdrawal of $100 million per year from the Alabama Trust Fund for a total of ten years.

But the proposal has not gone without opposition and legislators have been busy negotiating the details.

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“The debates have been extensive,” said Sen. Wendell Mitchell, D-Luverne. “We have accepted several amendments to the bill.”

Among the amendments was a clause that required at least 10 percent of the funds be distributed to smaller businesses and contractors to complete projects.

Mitchell said he thought it would be fair to ensure that large contractors were not the only builders that would benefit from the legislation.

Additionally, Mitchell said an amendment was agreed upon that would require any laborer assigned to projects funded by the bill, be a resident within the State of Alabama.

“We thought that would be important,” the senator said.

Mitchell also addressed concerns over the procurement of funds from the state savings account.

“We adopted an amendment that says at any time the trust fund drops below $2 billion, the project would be suspended,” he said. Mitchell said that the proposal should be voted on Tuesday.