News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Cramer right to question state on road building

An irritated U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer stepped out of character last week to slam the state for how it gets around to doing road projects.

The occasion was the celebration of another $2 million in federal funds for an Interstate 65 interchange at Tanner.

If he can produce federal funding for specific projects, he thinks the state Department of Transportation can be a bit more accommodating in getting projects under construction.

Mr. Cramer is usually a low-key congressman who works quietly within the system. "A sit-down with the Department of Transportation and myself may also be long over due," he said, referring to a recent meeting with Gov. Bob Riley. "I'm just not understanding their reasons on why they don't move on some projects."

The state, of course, always pleads that it has limited road and bridge funds and must be judicious in how it allocates them. But when a congressman brings in an extra $4.5 million for a $5.5 million project, it should get Montgomery's attention.

The state has a series of preliminary steps it must take before starting a project, including purchasing right of way. In this case, that will take the remainder of this year at least.

That means construction might get started in 2007. But don't count on that happening. Decatur thought work was starting on six-laning Beltline Road in early 2004. Then the date slipped to October and then to this year.

At the rate the Beltline Road is progressing, Limestone County will be lucky to get the much-needed interchange by 2009.

Mr. Cramer didn't mention that politics may be playing a role in getting this project started. Nor did he suggest that the state has a bureaucratic system that cranks out progress slowly. But he could have done so.

It's a shame that our members of Congress and our state officials don't get along better. It's Mr. Cramer's nature to be long suffering. His comments suggest the bumpy relationship, at least when it comes to roads and bridges, needs repaving.

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