On behalf of Southside and Rainbow City, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth has asked the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to fund a new bridge on Alabama Highway 77 over the Coosa River in Etowah County.

Ainsworth issued a statement Monday saying he was putting his full support behind the cities' and state's application for the RAISE grant to construct a new northbound bridge that will more efficiently and more safely handle the area's growing traffic.

"If this application is awarded, it will meet a critical need in these communities which have seen significant growth due to the automotive manufacturing industry in Alabama," Ainsworth wrote. "Automotive manufacturers such as Honda Automotive and their suppliers must have safe and reliable transportation routes for continued success, furthermore, Alabama needs to be able to provide them with safe travel routes for our continued growth."

Ainsworth also asked the USDOT to consider the existing bridge's advanced age and maintenance needs, which have too often caused traffic accidents.

"The current bridge in use is over 80 years old and is in disrepair. It creates hazardous travel for our citizens," he said. "Accidents occur frequently, and many have resulted in fatalities. The bridge funnels two lanes of heavy traffic into one single lane. A major concern is that not if, but when a school bus is involved in an accident that fatalities will be the outcome."

Both Rainbow City and Southside have already committed $1 million for the project, which Anishworth said further emphasized its importance.

"For communities this size, this commitment is sizable and should speak volumes to just how important this project is," he said. "...The cities of Southside and Rainbow City have worked tirelessly on this very important infrastructure project. I fully support them in their endeavor to complete this project, and I respectfully ask that you give this application full and fair consideration."

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email daniel.taylor@1819news.com.

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