MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — More than $100 million of ALDOT contracts are currently on hold as state lawmakers fight over funding for the West Alabama Corridor Project.

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The dispute centers on a nearly $75 million contract going toward that project, which broke ground in 2021. It aims to widen a two-lane roadway to four lanes and connect Thomasville to Tuscaloosa.

“It’s a region of this state that for some reason the rest of this state wants to forget about,” Rep. A.J. McCampbell (D- Livingston) said.

Rep. McCampbell supports the project. He says critics are ignoring much-needed investments in an area with mostly Black Alabamians.

“If we are ever going to be able to have any development and any growth over in the western part of the Black Belt, then we’ve got to start investing over there as a state,” McCampbell said.

Sen. Chris Elliott doesn’t see it that way.

“The economic development argument, I’m afraid, is a fallacy,” Elliott (R- Josephine) said.

Elliott points to I-65 as an example, saying there are still poor areas along that interstate. He also takes issue with the growing costs of the project.

It was initially estimated to be around $800 million, but an ALDOT representative Friday said it will likely be higher than that.

“This administration has a history — especially when you look at prisons — of lowballing projects of this magnitude on the front end. I want to make sure that we go into this eyes wide open,” Elliott said.

Elliott also expressed concern over the lack of federal funding going toward this project.

That disagreement played out at the Contract Review Committee meeting last week.

Elliott said he wanted to delay approval of the West Alabama Corridor Project contract, leading Rep. England — who supports the project — to say he intended to hold all 14 ALDOT contracts.

Lawmakers eventually decided on leaving all 14 contracts unapproved by the end of the meeting, with plans to meet this week with ALDOT to work out an agreement.