Interstate 85 expansion would breathe life into Black Belt

Published 5:55 pm Thursday, September 9, 2010

There is no argument. The extension of Interstate 85 from Montgomery to the Mississippi line at Interstate 20 would breathe life into the Black Belt.

The experts in economic development saw this years ago, as evidenced by the study, “Crossroads and Connections: Strategies for Rural Alabama, which was published in October 2004. The study points out, among other things, transportation is a key issue for rural Alabama to develop and thrive.

Because of this region’s rural nature, most people have had the attitude of “standing on one’s own two feet,” meaning local governments have tended to their own realms without much given into working regional efforts.

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Five fingers make a hand and a hand produces more than five individual fingers. This is the attitude the Black Belt will have to develop to see I-85 to fruition. All the counties involved will have to come to the table, select the best to plead the case, then pull the entire congressional delegation into a room for a presentation. That presentation must be sharp and to the point. The delegation must include all who are part of the core group of the counties of the Black Belt.

Nothing, experts say, nothing is accomplished in the 21st century in community development of any magnitude without a regional approach.

The Black Belt has waited too long. Our futures and, more importantly, the futures of our children and grandchildren depend on a collegial working relationship and a positive front to present to our congressional delegation, which holds the pursestrings to the realization of construction of this important project.