This week, President Trump laid out his path to finally tackle America’s infrastructure problems with the announcement of his $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan. The president’s plan focuses on stimulating new investments, in the form of public private partnerships, and encouraging more responsible local spending. Key word there – responsible.
Unfortunately, this mentality has been missing in Alabama for some time now. Wasteful public infrastructure projects have led to a crumbling infrastructure system that recently received an overall C- grade, with a C- for bridges and a D+ for roads. Our leaders aren’t focused on the big picture items, like the crucial I-10 Mobile River Bridge project. Instead, the Alabama Department of Transportation, under Director John Cooper, is throwing money at unnecessary projects where private sector partners could save taxpayer dollars and allow the state to focus on truly rebuilding our infrastructure.
Instead of focusing on projects that would stimulate our economy and make our communities safer Alabama’s infrastructure priorities under current leadership is riddled with examples of wasteful projects:
- The Birmingham 59/20 bridge project that was originally estimated to cost $450 million, but due to poor planning by ALDOT has suffered many setbacks bringing that estimate up to $750 million in taxpayer dollars.
- The recent announcement of a second taxpayer-funded bridge to alleviate congestion between mainland Alabama and the Gulf Shores community to the tune of $30 million. Despite the fact that a private company, American Roads, has expressed its willingness to expand upon its current bridge servicing the area at no cost to Alabamians, ALDOT continues to push for this project.
- The Northern Beltline, a 52 mile freeway north of Birmingham. The project is estimated to cost a whopping $5.45 Billion – more than $100 million per mile. Initially, supporters promised the Beltline would receive 100% federal funding now they’re changing their tune as is ALDOT. Bait and switch?
It is time that our elected officials follow President Trump’s lead and start reforming government in a way that puts current spending to better use, and encourage public-private partners rather than turn them away. Tell Director Cooper and Governor Ivey to follow the president’s lead, instead of wasting our tax dollars and turning away the private sector.