BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – The governor and lieutenant governor are at odds over widening the I-65 highway, mainly whether there is money to pay for it right now.
Tourists and locals alike know the frustrations of traveling along I-65 to get to popular summer destinations.
“Every time we go to the beach, you can expect, it says 6 hours, but it’ll probably be around 7 or 8,” says Zak Keith, who is heading to the beach for the weekend.
Some people are hitting the road early for Memorial Day, knowing the traffic is likely to get worse throughout the weekend.
“It seems like traffic’s worse on 65 than it is anywhere else, especially once you get south of Montgomery, it gets really bad,” Steve Curtis, a frequent I-65 traveler, said.
“It’s, you know, from 10 miles per hour to 70, and so with traffic this weekend and school being out and Memorial Weekend, it’s been tough out there,” says Amy Brekle, who is going to the beach for the holiday weekend. “Another lane would be a huge bonus.”
Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth has proposed adding an extra lane to I-65 in each direction from Tennessee to Mobile. He says that could be a reality in 10 to 15 years.
CBS 42 political analyst Steve Flowers says expanding I-65 is something almost every person who travels it often would like to see.
“That is where most of the traffic in this state is. So, it makes sense to say that we ought to four-lane I-65. I’ve had a lot of frustrating days; I think a lot of people have on that thing,” Flowers said. “I get stopped 4 out of 10 times.”
Flowers says Governor Ivey would also like to see I-65 expanded, but there has to be money to complete the project. This raises the question, what about money from the gas tax or Rebuild Alabama?
“Alabama does not have a wealth of money for roads. [Ivey] probably should have asked for more money for the gas tax than she did. Now, she’s got a lot of criticism for it but in defense of her, she at least did something as governor to increase the gasoline tax to give us the possibility of having some roads,” says Flowers.
Flowers says although the I-65 expansion is something many people think should be a priority, the governor knows best how much money the state has and where to spend it.