The traffic plaguing a stretch of Interstate 65 between Birmingham and Montgomery has been a cause of frustration for regular travelers for decades.

Delays have even drawn the ire of Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, who recently criticized I-65 as something that should have been improved "decades ago."

State Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville), whose district includes portions of I-65, calls an eventual project to improve the beleaguered highway a "high priority."

During an interview with Montgomery radio's NewsTalk 93.1 on Wednesday, he insisted it could not be done without federal funds. However, he also blamed so-called "left-lane driving" for some of the tie-ups along Interstate 65.

"It does," he replied. "I would say that project is high priority. I would also say it will not get done without federal dollars. That is a huge, huge project – massive dollars. But long term for our state, it is something that is very important. I-65 is an economic engine, a vein to the engine that allows that commerce to go up and down the interstate."

"I will say one of the main problems that we have from an engineering perspective is speed differential," Chambliss continued. "You've got some people going 85-90 miles an hour, and you've got some going 70, and that creates problems. If we would all go the same speed limit or the same speed, that would correct things. That's not going to happen."

"The other thing is left-lane driving," he added. "For whatever reason, people think it's their duty to slow people down and drive in the left lane. That's very dangerous, and we even passed a state law to make it abundantly clear that it is not legal. Everyone is to remain in the right lane unless they're passing. That left-lane driving robs significant capacity from our interstate highways. If people would stay in the right lane unless they're passing, it would help things out a lot."

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 or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.

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