Lieutenant Gov. Will Ainsworth took to Twitter on Saturday to share a complaint about traffic on I-65 and call for new leadership in the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT).
Interstate 65, which connects all the state's primary metro areas — Mobile, Montgomery, Birmingham and Huntsville (via I-565) — and continues north to right outside Chicago, is often slowed down by traffic jams, particularly between Birmingham and Montgomery.
Meanwhile, the state is working to complete four-lane access between Mobile and Tuscaloosa through the West Alabama Corridor Project.
When announced by in 2021, Gov. Kay Ivey said the corridor would cost the state $800 million. The project would link U.S. Highway 43 in Thomasville with Alabama State Highway 69 near Moundville. However, some estimate the project's price tag is closer to $1 billion.
"A friend sent me this photo of today's traffic on I-65, which frustrates drivers, hurts tourism, and slows commerce," Ainsworth tweeted. "Meanwhile, ALDOT is spending $1 billion on a project with less than 1/20th of the traffic count. ALDOT needs a new plan, new priorities, and new leadership NOW."
A friend sent me this photo of today’s traffic on I-65, which frustrates drivers, hurts tourism, and slows commerce. Meanwhile, ALDOT is spending $1 billion on a project with less than 1/20th of the traffic count. ALDOT needs a new plan, new priorities, and new leadership NOW. pic.twitter.com/adhQSCP0RG— Will Ainsworth (@willainsworthAL) July 22, 2023
When asked about the tweet, Ainsworth told 1819 News that he is stopped multiple times a day by Alabamians frustrated about I-65.
"Tourists who come through our state are discouraged from returning, trucks are unable to transport goods in a timely manner, and our residents are unable to go about their daily lives all because I-65 is one long parking lot," Ainsworth said.
"Literally every Alabamian uses I-65 at some point, so let's begin fixing the problems with our most heavily trafficked roadway before starting an entirely new project like the West Alabama Corridor, which will cost roughly $1 billion before completion and have a fraction of the travelers," he continued.
Ainsworth called for new ALDOT leadership.
"It's time for new leadership at ALDOT that will stop turning a blind eye toward unsolved problems and start focusing on our most pressing needs," he insisted.
This is not Ainsworth's first jab at ALDOT leadership.
In March, he reiterated his pledge to make I-65 six lanes through the entire state and admitted publicly clashing with ALDOT Director John Cooper over his priorities.
Officers with the Marshall County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) arrested Cooper in June and charged him with a misdemeanor charge of harassment and intimidation. The plaintiff claims Cooper threatened to shoot him after the two argued over the property.
Cooper's trial date is set for August 2.
The embattled Cooper is also involved in a case in Baldwin County where he has been accused of operating in bad faith to build a new free bridge next to the toll bridge operated by the Baldwin County Bridge Company.
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