Study: Rural counties receive more road funds

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 10, 2004

A study by the Helena Economic Development Board shows that rural counties in the state receive more funding for road construction from the Alabama Department of Transportation.

Helena Economic Development Board chairman Scott Shannon and member Ed Kovalchick spearheaded an analysis of the DOT’s five-year road money distribution plan.

Their research shows that rural counties, particularly in the northwestern portion of the state, received a far greater ratio of funding compared to municipal counties such as Shelby County.

The study follows a petition drive organized by members of the Helena Economic Development Board in support of legislation sponsored by Rep. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) to revamp the DOT and the way road projects are prioritized.

Ward’s bill is scheduled for a vote before the state House of Representatives on Thursday.

Kovalchick said he analyzed and collected data from the DOT website, discovering that: counties with small, diminishing populations like Franklin are designated to receive the same amount of money as Shelby County, which is the fastest-growing county in the state.

Shelby County also has five times the population as Franklin County, Kovalchick said.

According to information from the Helena Economic Development Board and the DOT, Franklin County’s population decreased 1.2 percent from 2000 to 2002. Its five-year allocation of state road money per person is $650, however, the highest in the state.

Shelby County’s population grew by 6.4 percent during the same time frame. Shelby’s five-year allocation of state road money per person is $111.

Kovalchick believes that rural areas capture more road money from the DOT due to the prevalence of incumbent legislators in rural counties.

Franklin County is represented by Sen. Roger Bedford in the Alabama Legislature