As hard-working Alabamians, we think carefully about how we spend money, and take pride in our investments. I have found this especially to be true for those of us who are fortunate to live in South Alabama. The time has come to demonstrate that same level of pride in our roads and bridges.
Most of us travel across roads and bridges (such as Highway 59 in Baldwin County or Highway 98 in Mobile County) every day, and we rely on them to get us to our places of work and beyond. It’s impossible to deny the fact that infrastructure plays a significant role in our daily lives.
Unfortunately, our roadways need attention. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2015 Report Card for Alabama’s Infrastructure, Alabama’s roads received a grade of D+, and our bridges received a C-. As proud Alabamians, shouldn’t we expect more out of our infrastructure? As responsible Alabamians, we must make this decision together – it’s the right thing to do.
Among the reasons that illustrate this need, the poor conditions of our roads and bridges lead to fatalities and injuries. For example, according to TRIP, a total of 4,293 people died on Alabama’s highways from 2010 through 2014. As we learn more about the troubling state of our infrastructure and the threats being posed to public safety, people finally are beginning to talk about the situation we face (Highway 98 is known locally as “Bloody 98” for good reason).Thankfully, if we take action now, we can fix our roads and save peoples’ lives.
It’s important to understand how the conditions of our roads got to this point. Our state highways and county roads depend on revenue from the state – not the federal government. With that in mind, we need to push for additional protected funds to ensure that we can uphold our responsibilities to maintain, repair and expand our infrastructure – for the good of us all.
In addition to sparing unnecessary injuries and casualties, our investment in Alabama’s infrastructure will spark real economic benefits. In fact, according to the Alabama Road Builders Association, the design, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure in Alabama supports the equivalent of 65,068 full-time jobs across all sectors of the economy.
Also, in a 2013 survey conducted by Area Development Magazine, corporate executives ranked highway accessibility as the second-most important factor when selecting a new site. As a result of those outcomes, South Alabamians – from Monroeville to Gulf Shores and from Citronelle to Coden – can feel a great sense of pride and satisfaction as our wonderful state better positions itself to compete with our southern neighbors. We are winners. It’s time to bring that mentality to our roads and bridges.
Let’s take pride in our infrastructure and work to make Alabama a better place to live.
Keep in mind: Our Roads. Our Future. Our Responsibility.
Tommy Lee, 2016 Business Council of Alabama Chairman, CEO, Vulcan, Inc.