Huntsville mayor Tommy Battle: Internet sales tax, gas tax revenue could fund road, bridge improvements
In an appearance Thursday on North Alabama radio’s WVNN, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle made a plea to state lawmakers to take on improving Alabama’s Interstate Highway System, explaining they were over-capacity — not just in his city, but throughout the state.
Battle noted the problem areas on Interstates 65 and 565 and suggested the different sources of taxation that could be used to finance improvements.
He also said that with the economic expansion, particularly the Port of Mobile, improvements to roads and bridges would be necessary.
“I think we all know that we’ve got to do something with our highway system,” Battle said. “Our Interstate Highway System – [Interstate] 565 every morning, folks coming over from Tanner and Decatur basically come to a stop. It’s a parking lot for a little while as they’re headed over in the morning and the evening as they head back into their communities. The roads are over-capacity. We’re having over-capacity problems when you go on [Interstate] 65, and you hit that Calera area.”
“Now you have it when you come down, about mile marker 300 and you go from six lanes down to four lanes,” he continued. “You start having some tremendous back-up. And so, we got to do something with the roads and to do it. We’ve got to have the money to do it. The legislature has got to come up with how they’re going to do it. They have a new revenue of tax coming in, the SSUT, which is the internet sales tax – is coming in and could offer something for it. I’ve heard the talk about road taxes and putting taxes on gasoline.”
Battle acknowledged that he did not have all the answers.
“I don’t know what the absolute answer is,” he said. “I don’t have the numbers like the governor’s office, and the legislature does. But I know it is not just something we want to do. It’s something we have to do.”
The Huntsville mayor also warned that with the dredging of Mobile Bay and improvements to the Port of Mobile that will facilitate increased container capacity, Interstate highways would require improvements to handle the transportation of those containers.
“You think about what’s happening in Mobile right now – they’re going to dredge the bay and take on some bigger and heavier cargo container ships into the state docks down there,” Battle said.
“As they do that, every one of those containers will be on our Interstate Highway System. They’ll be on Interstate 10, or they’ll be on I-65, or they’ll hit 59, 20 or  as they come up. It’s just adding capacity to the roads that are already over-capacity.”
“You look at where both Amazon and Walmart both put in their distribution centers down in Mobile,” he continued. “Both of those facilities will be adding more traffic to the roads. What we’re seeing now is just kind of the start of an over-capacity problem that has to be taken care of one way or another.”