Widening Alabama Highway 53 from Huntsville to Ardmore, U.S. Highway 45 from Prichard to the Mississippi state line and Alabama Highway 167 from Troy through Enterprise to the Florida state line are just a few of the long-discussed projects scoffed at by Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) officials over the years.
Slow or no progress on improving Interstate 65 from Mobile to the Tennessee state line and getting the I-10 Mobile River and Bayway project off the ground also plagues movement and commerce throughout the state.
During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth acknowledged what he suggested had been a lackluster effort by the current leadership at ALDOT.
The lieutenant governor reiterated his commitment to making I-65 six lanes in its entirety through Alabama. But he also criticized ALDOT under the leadership of ALDOT director John Cooper.
"I do not think DOT has done a great job of managing our highways, infrastructure in the state," he said. "I've publicly clashed with John Cooper before on different things and certainly think we can have better leadership that does a better job there. I think, first, we have got to find out how we can continue to draw down federal dollars for these projects. I think, also, some of the things that are working in different local places, where locals are coming in and matching different money and putting up money to do different projects."
"So, I think at the end of the day, you've got to prioritize — OK, what are the projects we need to do?" Ainsworth added. "What is the current funding we have? How can we leverage that to get federal funds to come in on these projects as well as do local? I know that they're doing that, but I think at the end of the day, it all boils down to leadership, and I think that is something — you know, in my opinion, I'm not a big fan of the leadership at DOT and think they can do a better job. And so, I think that's been a big problem."
Jeff Poor is the executive editor of 1819 News and host of "The Jeff Poor Show," heard Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon on Mobile's FM Talk 106.5. To connect or comment, email [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.
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