The Alabama Contract Review Committee met last Thursday, where it discussed the Department of Transportation's plan for the West Alabama Corridor road expansion. Even after the meeting, one question that still plagues State Sen. Christ Elliott (R-Josephine) is how the state plans to pay for the project.

During an interview Friday with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5, Elliott said the project could cost nearly $1.5 billion and inhibit ALDOT from taking on other projects for the next two decades.

Elliott said ALDOT director John Cooper expressed concern during Thursday's meeting that ALDOT would be in a "funding crisis" within the next few years, meaning the State Legislature would have to approve even more funding to keep the department afloat.

"That's a member of the administration calling for yet another tax increase before the ink on this one is even dried, and it's because of decisions like this," Elliott said.

He said the Ivey administration's "reckless" attitude regarding the state's money was further displayed by how it responded to the criticism that expanding I-65 should be a higher priority.

"To hear the governor say this doesn't have to be a conversation about 65 or 43 and 69, 'we can do both,' Jeff, this isn't an Oprah giveaway where she gets to say, 'You get a car. You get a car. You get a road project. You get a road project,'" Elliott said. "There is a finite amount of money out there. We need to spend it as best we can; we need to leverage it as best we can, and we are not doing that on this project."

He compared it to the new mega-prison being built in Elmore County for $1 billion, which is what was initially budgeted for two prison facilities.

"This administration has a track record of lowballing projected costs on the front end, same way they're doing with this, and when you get down to the meat of it, you end up doubling — a 100% increase — in the total cost of the project and then come to the legislature," Elliott said. "We can see this pattern… It is so unfair. It is unfair to the people of west Alabama."

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