MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Gov. Kay Ivey Monday signed a contract approving about $75 million more state dollars for the West Alabama Corridor Project, as well as 12 other transportation contracts.
Her signature ends a more than month-long stalemate among lawmakers on the Contract Review Committee who put that contract and a dozen others on hold over a dispute on how to fund the West Alabama Corridor project.
While lawmakers on that committee cannot deny a contract, they can delay its approval for 45 days while working through any issues they have with it.
That timeframe ended Sunday, but some lawmakers still have issues with its funding.
Sen. Chris Elliott says he’s not against the project but wants a better method of paying for it. As part of the “Rebuild Alabama” initiative, the project is funded through state gas tax revenue.
Elliott says he’s concerned with spending what will likely be more than $1 billion on a single project without any federal match or the permitting in place that would make federal dollars possible.
“Even if Congresswoman Sewell showed up with a dump truck full of cash, we can’t use it on this project. That means 100% state funding, all of which is coming from this borrowed money against future gas tax revenues,” Sen. Elliott (R- Josephine) said.
However, Rep. Chris England says this is exactly the kind of project that Rebuild Alabama’s revenue should be going toward.
He says it will drive economic development in the Black Belt and he’s glad to see the governor support it.
“Many of our constituents and my constituents here in west Alabama and down the 43 corridor pay the gas tax just like everybody else does, and they should see some of their money come back and be invested in their areas,” Rep. England (D- Tuscaloosa) said.
Gov. Kay Ivey has previously voiced support for the project, saying she’s the governor of all the people, including those in the Black Belt.
“It’s the right thing to do, so we’re going to press on,” Gov. Ivey told reporters last month.