Governor Robert Bentley on Thursday outlined his plans to upgrade roads and bridges throughout the state.
Making such improvements, the Governor said, will improve the quality of life for Alabama citizens, and it will also help the state recruit additional jobs from industries that depend on a solid infrastructure.
"There are more than 59,000 miles of roads and 8,650 bridges across Alabama," Governor Bentley said. "Thousands of these bridges are in desperate need of rehabilitation, and many of our roadways are crumbling."
"We cannot ignore the conditions of our infrastructure," the Governor said. "School buses have to be detoured from an estimated 200 bridges a day because of weight restrictions. Our people deserve better."
"Industries need a strong infrastructure that will ensure efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery," Governor Bentley added. "Roads and bridges that are easily traveled, and safely meet the load limits needed to support deliveries, make an area more attractive to companies looking to bring jobs to Alabama."
Governor Bentley's remarks were delivered at the 55th Annual Alabama Transportation Conference in Montgomery.
The Governor outlined how the use of GARVEE bonds will finance the upgrades. GARVEE is the term commonly used to describe the Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles Bond Program. GARVEE bonds are an innovative method of financing highway and transit infrastructure in various locations.
"In this time when state dollars are limited, GARVEE bonds will allow us to pave today's roads with tomorrow's federal dollars," Governor Bentley said. "Through the use of these bonds, we can fund much-needed road projects now, rather than wait for federal funding years from now."
"Borrowing makes good financial sense in this case because the cost of borrowing is as low as it's ever been, and the cost of inflation on these construction projects is significantly higher than the interest rates we'll pay on the bonds," the Governor added. "In addition, the construction jobs this program will create are critical to continuing our state's economic growth."
"We will also be able to use these future federal dollars to make improvements without raising taxes and without taking money from our state savings account," Governor Bentley said.
The Governor will work with local leaders to identify and prioritize specific road and bridge projects. The first project could get underway as soon as this spring.
"This will create jobs and draw industries to underdeveloped regions of the state," the Governor said. "There is no better time to invest in our roads and bridges than today."