Politics has often played a role in Alabama's transportation policy, going back over the last century in Alabama.

One of the more well-known situations was the completion of the Interstate highways in and around Birmingham throughout the various Wallace administrations. Birmingham and surrounding areas never fully supported former Gov. George Wallace. The time it took to complete the Interstates 20, 59, 65 and 459 is believed to have suffered because of it.

More recently, the Bentley administration halted construction on the Jeff Road project in Madison County, supposedly to retaliate against then-State Sen. Bill Holtzclaw, who financed a billboard proclaiming then-Gov. Robert Bentley wanted to raise taxes.

During her 2018 gubernatorial bid, Gov. Kay Ivey was publicly confronted by Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, one of her opponents for the Republican nomination during that year's election cycle, over the widening of Interstate 565, a spur linking Interstate 65 and the city of Huntsville.

Lieutenant Gov. Will Ainsworth argues that the trend needs to end once and for all.

During this week's broadcast of Alabama Public Television's "Capitol Journal," Ainsworth argued politics still dominate transportation policy and that he would like to see a need-based approach.

"[I] think on transportation, this is important — we have to start to make sure that we allocate resources from DOT based on need, not on politics," he said in an interview taped during last week's Business Council of Alabama conference in Point Clear. "For too long in Alabama, we've done road projects on politics. We need to make sure we're doing stuff on need. I-10 right down here on the coast is a need. I-65 is a need. I am going to continue to argue when you look at the road, [U.S. Highway] 43, right? Is that something that is probably a good project? It is. But does it take priority over these others? In my opinion, no, it does not."

"I'm working on getting a list of projects together that I think from talking to local mayors, senators, House members that really are real projects. Let's get a 15- and 20-year plan in Alabama and start knocking this stuff out," Ainsworth continued.

Host Todd Stacy if he thought Alabama had the tax base for such a massive undertaking with the aforementioned projects.

"I think we do," he replied. "What you've got to look at — look at 43. That's $1.3 billion we're going to borrow. And so the question is, are we better off taking that money and putting $300-$400 million I-65? Put some towards I-10 and some up in Huntsville, some in Tuscaloosa, some in Auburn, some in Montgomery, where areas are growing, Birmingham. My opinion is yes. We should do that and spread that out over projects that can help immediate need because we have real needs right now on transportation where areas of our state are growing. We have got to make sure we stay ahead of the growth."

"And so the answer is, I'll get you an exact number on 65," Ainsworth added. "But it is certainly doable. And I'll tell you how I know it's doable — I drove coming back through Tennessee on the way back from a Kentucky basketball game. They were six-laning, you know, three and three, right from the Kentucky line to Nashville. Other states are doing it, and certainly, you can get a federal match. The other thing I understand is it's possible on 43 with Biden's new infrastructure plan, that that could get funded potentially through federal funds. Why would we want to spend state money on that? So, we've got to allocate resources and find out how we can get federal matches, then start knocking them out. But 65, to me, should have been done a long time ago. And the fact we don't have a plan how we're going to do that is a problem."

Jeff Poor is the editor in chief 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 jeff.poor@1819News.com or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.

Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.