Toll road would help Black Belt

Published 11:59 am Thursday, February 19, 2009

A bill that would move forward construction of a toll road through the Black Belt has picked up the support of the governor, lieutenant governor and others in state government.

The road, which would run from Mobile to Florence, would cut the heart of the Black Belt. It has been planned since 1993. The problem has been paying for the road.

This bill would allow the state to engage in private-public partnerships to help ease the state’s burden of the cost. Additionally, the toll road would allow the state to apply for Federal highway grants that would help with building the thoroughfare.

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For too long, access to major highways in the Black Belt has been limited with more focus going toward the I-65 corridor in east Alabama.

It is good to see at least some consideration of lifting up the Black Belt. After all, transportation is a lifeblood for attracting industry and development in a region. And, with some of the highest unemployment in the state, this area could use a lift, some attention.

We sincerely hope this consideration is more than the talk we have heard for years and years. The Black Belt has much to offer, but it needs some help from the statehouse.