By Paul DeMarco

It has now been four years since Alabama state representatives and senators raised the gasoline tax 10 cents per gallon. The tax will now go up another penny this year starting on October 1st.

Tax dollars from this legislation resulted in more than $344 million for the 2022 fiscal year, which was almost $24 million than the year before.

With all the tax money pouring into government coffers, it is creating disputes on how to spend it on roads in the state. From the Tennessee line to the Gulf of Mexico, there are plenty of needs that must be met for those that travel on Alabama’s thoroughfares.

Construction being funded by the tax is happening across the state, but the two projects that are getting the most publicity are widening I-65 and plans for a four-lane highway from Mobile to Tuscaloosa. Money has been committed to both plans to get dirt turning and asphalt laid as soon as possible.

There is clearly not enough money to do both, and some legislators are questioning the funding estimates for the West Alabama corrider by the Alabama Department of Transportation. Some contracts have been delayed by Alabama lawmakers and a request made of an accounting of how much construction money will be spent.

Legitimate issues should be addressed by the Transportation Department about future statewide priorities for highway projects and where will the money come to fund what is designated as essential for the state’s infrastructure needs. When the gasoline tax bill was being debated, there was a lot of discussion of the need to replace aging bridges and deficient roadways. There were also arguments made that congestion and public safety were important reasons that made it essential to pass this legislation.

With Alabama citizens paying for higher gasoline taxes, it is imperative state leaders ensure taxpayers have confidence in the transparency of the way our roads are financed, now and in the future.

Paul DeMarco is a former member of the Alabama House of Representatives and can be found on X (formerly known as Twitter) @Paul_DeMarco