ALDOT sees need for increase in gasoline tax

Published 3:28 pm Wednesday, September 28, 2016

By: Shayla Terry

In Alabama’s last legislative session, a new bill emerged that would increase the state’s gas tax by six cents a gallon.

The bill did not make the transition to a law during this year’s session. Yet, lawmakers and the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) still see the need for the increase.

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The bill stands to bring in funds for road construction and maintenance. Road construction and maintenance includes the resurfacing of roads and improvements to bridges.  As it stands, the money acquired from the government has been limited. Crenshaw County Engineer Benjamin Sanders says he turns to other ways to obtain funding.

“The federal money allocated through ALDOT is where the majority of our funds to resurface roads come from,” Sander said. “We were fortunate enough to to get some Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program funding. That’s what we’ve been replacing bridges with.”

ATRIP focuses on making improvements to infrastructure through the accelerated delivery of project funding. Since applying for ATRIP in 2012, Crenshaw County has had 23 bridges and one resurfacing project funded through it.

Currently, Alabama drivers pay 18 cents a gallon in state tax. The state gas tax has not seen an increase since 1992. The projected increase will mean that drivers will pay just under $5 a month in gas tax.

“In my opinion gas tax is the fairest way to fund road improvements,” Sanders said.

“It equates to how much use you are getting out of the roads. The more use you get out of the road, the more tax you pay. If you’re a person who doesn’t drive very much, then you don’t pay very much tax.”

With the tax increase, Crenshaw County would see an additional 12.1 million dollars in funding over the next ten years. Ninety percent of funding would go towards improving and maintaining roads. The additional funding would provide 136 additional miles of road resurfacing.

“One hundred and thirty-six additional miles in 10 years is almost half of our paved road mileage that would be able to be improved,” Sanders said.

With the current funding, Sanders says it will take over 30 years to resurface all of the county’s roads.

“Currently, we’re at about a 36-year cycle,” Sanders said.

“The funding would allow us to resurface all of roads in about 14 years. Better roads and bridges stand to increase our economic growth. With that additional funding, we can focus on making other thing better.”

The six cent increase will place Alabama at the same average gas tax as its neighboring states.