Former Gov. Bentley claims credit for federal and local road funding
Despite nonprofit and academic studies that concluded Alabama is between $600-800 million short in annual infrastructure revenue, former Governor Robert Bentley (R-AL) is bragging that his administration addressed the issue.
In a Facebook post made as the House Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure Committee met late Thursday morning, Bentley said that since launching ATRIP in 2012, $1.2 billion has been spent on roads and bridges across the state. Bentley explained this money was spent for these to be “replaced, rebuilt and repaved.”
This comes as studies have shown that 92 percent of Alabama’s road and bridge funds are spent solely on maintenance, rather than expansion. Proponents of Rebuild Alabama argue that increased revenue is needed so expansion projects can be funded.
Bentley’s post apparently comes in response to seeing an advertisement supporting Rebuild Alabama.
The former governor said, “I just heard an Ad regarding the proposed gasoline tax hike the Legislature will soon vote on. The Ad stated that Alabama hasn’t addressed road funding since 1992. Though I’ve stayed out of many things coming out of Montgomery, this statement is simply False.”
“During our Administration, along with the Legislature we launched ATRIP in 2012, the largest road and bridge program in the state’s history. Since then, there have been over 1,000 road and bridges replaced, rebuilt and repaved with over $1.2 Billion dollars in all 67 counties,” he added.
ATRIP, while administered by ALDOT, is 80 percent federally funded. The remaining 20 percent is funded by local sponsors, not the state’s road and bridge fund.
Bentley added, “We even launched RAMP to help rural counties who couldn’t afford to be a part of ATRIP. This was done after we cut state government and saved the taxpayers over $1 Billion annually.”
RAMP is funded by the state through bonds. It takes the place of the 20 percent local funding needed for ATRIP. There is a ceiling of $1 million in state funding per RAMP project. While this funding has been helpful, it is still nowhere near the level of funding that experts say is required to meet the state’s infrastructure needs.
Bentley, who proposed raising eight taxes in 2015, said, “Not one penny of taxes was raised to do [ATRIP and RAMP]. So there are other options to fixing our roads.”
He concluded, “It’s not fair to the people of this state and the hardworking cities and counties that were able to be a part of ATRIP and RAMP to say that never happened. Always praying for the wisdom of our leaders and the people of Alabama to do what’s best for our Great State.”
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn