Get the motor running

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Work to improve the University of Montevallo&8217;s brick streets around Main Quad finally began Oct. 29, some eight years after the university was awarded the grant.

The state Highway Department had to approve

street plans, but there were no guidelines for brick streets or contractors to do the work. That left the project repeatedly delayed.

Thanks to State Rep. Mike Hill (R-Columbiana) the process was finally sped up at ALDOT, but that red tape is a minor example compared to the other projects continually backlogged in the transportation department.

As of February 2007, it was reported Shelby County had an estimated $395 billion in projects it would like to complete in the next decade, but a shortfall of about $335 billion needed to do so.

We believe the jam goes further than a lack of funds.

State Rep. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) introduced a bill that would create a nine-member Transportation Commission to head the Alabama Department of Transportation more than three years ago. This committee would prioritize road projects based solely on need, according to Ward.

That bill, according to Ward, passed out of the House three times, but has not been able to get a vote in the Senate. &8220;The red tape is the most frustrating thing we deal with,&8221; Ward said.

He also noted that the widening of I-65 has been held up for more than a decade and that that is &8220;unconscionable.&8221;

We believe leaders at county and state levels should continue to push for a way to speed up the process. Vital projects should not be needlessly held up. The transportation needs of Shelby County must be met and political gridlock, red tape and procrastination are not the answers.