Rep. Craig Ford
One of the things I learned from my dad when I was young, is that you can accomplish the things that may seem impossible; things that other people tell you can’t be done.
More than once, somebody (sometimes even me) would tell my dad that something couldn’t be done. But dad would just smile at them and say, “Can’t never could.”
As a legislator, my dad fought for a lot of projects that some people doubted would ever become a reality. Dad fought for I-759 before it ever existed (years later, they named it the “Joe Ford Highway” in honor of him).
When I was still a boy growing up in East Gadsden, I remember Dad taking me out into the middle of the woods and telling me how there was going to eventually be a four-lane road coming through there to connect East Broad Street to Gadsden State’s campus. I thought he was crazy. But today, none of us think twice about driving down George Wallace Drive.
Even near the end of his life, Dad was still fighting for projects in Etowah County. When he told me that there would be a multi-million dollar building constructed on Gadsden State’s campus that would act as a consortium with Jacksonville State University (making it the only community college in Alabama to have such a facility), I didn’t doubt him. I knew right then and there that that building would become a reality, and sure enough it did!
I guess that never give up attitude is a common trait in my family. They told my Uncle Danny that he would never be able to coach a national championship-winning team at Clemson. But at age 33, Danny Ford became the youngest coach to ever win a national championship in college football.
My dad and my Uncle Danny proved that old saying right. If you believe you can’t get something done, then you won’t. But if you believe that you can, then you can make the impossible become possible.
I have seen this proven in my own life, as well.
When I began fighting for a sports complex in Etowah County, there were those who told me it would never happen and that I should just give up. I didn’t give up, and now we are on the verge of making a major announcement of where the new sports complex will be located. The sports complex will be built, and the project is moving forward despite the doubters.
I was also told that the extension of I-759 to Highway 278 was just a dream that would never happen. But I continued to fight for this project, and now we will see it become a reality! The surveying is almost complete, and the next phase of the project will soon begin.
We must complete the extension of I-759 and the construction of the sports complex, and then we must move on to the other projects that some people say can’t be done.
We need to focus on completing the widening of Highway 411 into a four-lane road. The right-of-way acquisition has already been bought, and the project can be completed for $20 million (for reference, the Dept. of Transportation will be getting more than $487 million in State funding this year).
Etowah and Cherokee Counties are among the few counties in our State that neighbor each other aren’t connected by a four-lane road. That needs to change, and it needs to change as soon as possible.
Another major project that needs to be taken on is the completion of the Southside Bridge. While Southside is not in my district, finishing the bridge is essential for Etowah County, and I will be introducing a bill in the next Legislative Session to help make this happen.
In addition to the Southside Bridge, we need to make progress on the Meighan Boulevard Bridge. Right now, we have six lanes of traffic feeding into a four-lane bridge. Widening the bridge to six lanes is not only a matter of economic development; it is a matter of public safety!
Some people will continue to say funding all these projects will never happen. But the lessons I’ve learned from my dad and my Uncle Danny, as well as the lessons I’ve learned from my own experience, have taught me that we can make these projects become a reality if we continue to put our minds to it and never give up the fight.
The first step to accomplishing anything is believing that it can be done. Like the old saying goes, “Can’t never could.”
And “can’t” isn’t in my vocabulary.
Rep. Craig Ford represents Gadsden and Etowah County in the Alabama House of Representatives. He served as the House Minority Leader from 2010-2016.