Road, bridge bill could aid county

Published 5:55 pm Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Alabama House passed a statewide bill late Tuesday that will allocate $1 billion over ten years to road and bridge construction.

“We stayed on that bill all day,” said Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy “We adjourned near midnight.”

After extensive debating, the legislation was accepted with more than a dozen amendments attached to the original bill.

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“I don’t believe they will remain,” Boothe said, “I talked to Senator Barron, and he said he didn’t like some of those amendments.”

Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, was the original sponsor the bill.

“I think the chances of those amendments staying on the bill are very slim,” Boothe said.

Among those amendments was a condition that would ensure that an additional $5 million per year is divided amongst counties with populations of 100,000 people or less.

Boothe said this was essentially an answer by lower populated counties to amendments that would benefit metropolitan areas such as Mobile and Huntsville.

If the bill makes it to the ballot and voters approve it in November, the money will be obtained from the Alabama Trust Fund. The fund would be tapped for $100 million per year for 10 years, roughly what it raises from state owned natural gas wells off the Gulf Coast.

Supporters of the bill say the additional funding will also help replenish thousands of jobs lost in the construction industry.

Boothe said he stood behind the bill.

“I think we need all the help we can get in Pike County,” he said, citing roads across the area that need work and school bus lines that have been rerouted due to poor conditions.

Boothe said the bill will now go back to the Senate and to a conference committee and must pass the House again by next Wednesday or Thursday. He was confident voters will eventually get the chance to decide on it.

“I expect the bill in some form to be passed,” he said.