Transportation bill needed

Published 8:49 pm Tuesday, March 3, 2009

When Alabama voters prepare to cast ballots for state senate in their various districts, they need to remember some key votes during the last four years. One of them should stand as the proposed constitutional amendment that would have seen $1 billion in state road construction.

On Tuesday the Senate voted 19-11 mostly along party lines for the bill, part of a stimulus plan for this state. It was two votes short.

Eleven of the 13 Republicans in the Senate voted against the bill because, they said, the proposed measure would have taken $100 million a year for 10 years from an oil and gas revenue savings account — the Alabama Trust Fund. That’s too much those Republicans said.

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These naysayers should have a history lesson.

Economic development and transportation needs have walked hand and hand since 3500 BC when fixed wheels on carts were invented, which lead to the construction of chariots. Later, that gave way to John Loudon McAdam developing the first modern highways, which mean the Industrial Revolution kicked off. Motor transport developed, meaning hard-topped roads replaced dirt ones to prevent goods going from factories to markets were not bogged down in mud during inclement weather.

Even now, infrastructure relating to roads and highways play a major part in getting goods and services to people and people to jobs. Lack of good regional highway access usually results in high unemployment and low income because the basic tools are not there for property development, which leads to population increase, employment, business output and growth by industry.

Sometimes, taking a hard knock for benefits in the future works. It is likely the $1 billion highway construction plan would have placed Alabama in a good position to compete economically.

But the state has lost. And so have its people.