Despite the Ivey administration's best efforts, the so-called West Alabama Corridor that would complete a four-lane route between Mobile and Tuscaloosa with a price tag approaching $1 billion remains a controversial use of public dollars.

The project is being fast-tracked by Ivey's Alabama Department of Transportation and financed solely by Rebuild Alabama gas tax revenue without a federal matching component.

Future gas tax revenue for years into the future would be leveraged to complete the route.

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson, a strident advocate of the West Alabama Corridor, argues the route has the merit to warrant the expenditure.

During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5, he said the completed route would alleviate traffic on Interstate 65, the state's main north-south artery, by offering an alternative.

"I don't use the term 'maxing out the credit card,'" he said. "What I look at is you're leveraging the future revenues coming through the gas tax. And really, I think the Finance Department of the State of Alabama, working with ALDOT, has to determine how they leverage those dollars so that it can move this project forward but not encumber or impede other projects. It is competition across the state to do various projects, and so I fully understand that. But I think we have got to depend on the Finance Department to show how do we leverage these dollars to get the greatest return on investment, and it has just got to be able to stand that in that comparison to make sure we're doing the right thing."

Stimpson suggested federal money for the road project could come at a later date.

"When it comes to the federal matching — I've been involved with the [I-10 Mobile River] bridge since 2008 seeking federal money ... Federal matching, I am sure it happens sooner in some places rather than others, depending on the project. But that just doesn't happen overnight. And so I'm saying that my thought is, yeah, if we can get federal matching, if that makes sense, let's do it. But we can't just be waiting on federal matching to do it. And it could be the federal matching piece could come at a secondary phase or a tertiary phase of the project and maybe just doesn't work for the first phase."

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 or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.

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