State Sen. Chambliss previews October Joint Transportation Committee meeting; Expects ‘discussion’ about I-10 Mobile bridge
In October, the legislature’s newly formed Joint Transportation Committee will meet, which will be its first meeting since the increase of the state’s fuel tax on September 1.
During an interview with Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Tuesday, Chambliss, a member of that committee and sponsor of the law passed earlier this year that reorganized the legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee, said to expect the committee to review the use of funding by all levels of government — city, county and state.
“One of the things I think we will be seeing is one of the requirements of the bill for accountability purposes was that local cities and counties adopt their plan for the year, so I’m sure we’ll have information on those, and you know, that’s an accountability thing, so we know what they’re going to use the money for, the public knows what they’re going to use money for,” Chambliss said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “And then at the end of the year, they may have to do a follow-up report saying these were our plans, this is what we actually did, here’s the reasons why it had to adjust during the year — so there’s full accountability of the dollars as we move forward.”
Chambliss said on the state level, there has always been scrutiny by the legislature but there will some additional levels of it with the newly constituted committee.
“On the state level, we have for years done this type of thing with our statewide transportation improvement plan,” Chambliss said. “That accountability has been there. We know where those dollars are spent. But there is additional reporting requirements to the Joint Transportation Committee — additional scrutiny, a lot of new eyes that are looking at these things and that’s always a good thing when it comes to government. We need to make sure it is used most efficiently, most effectively and make sure the taxpayers are getting the most they can for their tax dollar.”
As for the proposed I-10 Mobile Bay bridge, the hot-button transportation of the moment, Chambliss said to expect discussion.
“I’m sure there’ll be discussion about it,” he said. “There’s obviously the statewide transportation improvement plan. We have an opportunity to look at that. I guess as it stands right now, the local delegation, the local MPO has taken it out of their plan so it wouldn’t be in the state plan at that point. So, I know there’s a lot of people working and trying to figure out what can be done. I don’t think there’s much question that there needs to be additional lanes, additional bridge on I-10 going across there. The debate comes in on how — how you do it, who pays for it and that sort of thing.”
The Prattville Republican touted the improvements to the oversight power of the legislature over transportation.
“There is specific language in the joint transportation bill as well as the Rebuild Alabama bill that does require interaction, answer questions, providing all information requested — that sort of thing,” Chambliss said. “And there was additional language in there about us looking at their structure, the way they’re managed and those type things. So yes, we will be looking at those things over time, for sure.”
“It is multi-folds over what we’ve had in the past, and all the while respecting the separation of powers between the legislative and the executive,” he added. “There’s an amendment process we can go through with the executive to try to help them get them where we need them to go.”