Monday Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, sent a letter to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey asking the governor to expedite the six-lane construction of I-565 from Madison to I-65.
“Thank you and Secretary Canfield for the great job you have done in helping to recruit new industries to the Tennessee Valley and Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District!,” Brooks wrote. “The successful recruitment of Toyota/Mazda and Bocar and the expansion of existing Toyota, Hexcel, Polaris facilities, and multiple other Tennessee Valley employers, are all welcome news. Of course, industrial growth means more people in the Tennessee Valley which, in turn, means worsening traffic congestion and the need for commiserate transportation improvements.”
“One of the Tennessee Valley’s primary challenges is I-565 traffic flow between the City of Madison and I-65 (and, further in the future, between I-65 and western Decatur),” wrote Brooks. “Currently, I-565 traffic loads cause frequent stoppages and accidents during rush hour times. And this is before thousands of additional commuters are added to the traffic flow with announced new industry start-ups and expansions and supplier businesses that will locate in the valley to meet major industrial needs.”
“The total employment impact of just the Toyota/Mazda project alone in the I-565 and I-65 transportation area is estimated to be in the 10,000 to 15,000 range,” Brooks warned. “If just 10 percent or so of these workers travel the busy I-565 corridor then this four lane section of I-565 would easily rank as the most congested rush hour four lane interstate section in Alabama. The Tennessee Valley competes nationally for industrial growth. One of our big selling points has always been the much faster travel time to and from work. I urge you to help us stay ahead of our traffic congestion issues before it gets even worse and hampers industrial recruitment efforts. Please direct the Alabama Department of Transportation to expedite the six ‘laning’ of I-565 from Madison to I-65.”
“I understand the competing demands for limited resources but the projected growth rates along this corridor should be evaluated when prioritizing Alabama’s transportation projects,” Brooks continued. “I hope you concur that Alabama cannot afford to let traffic congestion stifle the economic growth of one of the fastest growing, and largest state revenue producing, Alabama regions.”
The greater Huntsville area has been tremendously successful at attracting new industry and resident, but the state is having some issues with generating sufficient transportation dollars to maintain the state’s roadway network and upgrade the roads in need of improving capacity. Building the new I-10 bridge in Mobile and increasing the capacity of U.S. Highway 280 in the Birmingham area are other projects that have been long delayed. Alabama funds its roads through fuel taxes; but as vehicles become more fuel efficient the collections of road dollars per motorist declines.
There was talk to raising fuel taxes during this legislative session; but ultimately state legislators decided not to bring a tax increase bill in an election year. They also balked at efforts to increase fuel taxes in 2017 and 2016 when this idea actually made it further in the legislative process before dying in the face of public opposition.
Congressman Mo Brooks represents the 5th Congressional District.