Rebuild Alabama

road work, construction

Reporting by WVUA23’s Jabaree Prewitt

A number of issues were brought up at the state of the state address in Tuscaloosa Wednesday, but few were as heavily discussed as the Rebuild Alabama plan.

Rep. Rodney Sullivan says that the Rebuild Alabama Act was the most important bill to pass during the latest legislative session. He believes it will have a major impact on Tuscaloosa.

In March, Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill into law that will result in Alabama drivers seeing a 10 cent per gallon increase in the state gas tax over the next three years. The first wave of the tax will be a 6 cent increase that will go into effect in September, followed by 2 cent increases in October 2020 and October 2021.

The tax is expected to generate around $320 million annually, which will go toward road and bridge construction across the state.

“We’re already seeing issues in our rural areas where they just don’t have the funds to do any type of road improvements so I think once this gets implemented I think we’re going to start seeing a good deal of benefit,” Sullivan said.

Lawmakers believe the plan will dramatically improve the safety of travelers on Alabama’s roads and bridges.

A 2017 study by the U.S. Department of Transportation showed that Alabama has the 13th highest rate of traffic fatalities in the country. Alabama senate majority leader Greg Reed has said one in six Alabamians drive over a structurally deficient bridge on a daily basis and that includes 300,000 students who are on school buses.

“Traffic has been an issue and I think taking these steps is going to greatly improve when it’s done I know it’s aggravating but, I think in the end it’s going to be beneficial,” Sullivan said.

The state has several roads in Tuscaloosa on its long-term plans, especially Highway 82 and McFarland Boulevard, according to Tera Tubbs, Tuscaloosa’s Executive Director for Infrastructure and Public Services.

“Tuscaloosa has grown a lot over the last several years and so our infrastructure has also got to expand with that so it’s going to give the city of Tuscaloosa the ability to add the turning lanes the access that they need to be able to better serve citizens and those that drive on our roads,” Tubbs said.

Sullivan says counties should start seeing funds in January or February of 2020.

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