Friday, July 29, 2005

Road warriors

Alabama would get more than $200 million in earmarked federal transportation money under a highway bill that Congress probably will pass today. Included are $100 million for the Interstate 85 extension through the Black Belt, which Gov. Bob Riley has ordered the state Department of Transportation to place on the fast track, and $8 million for Birmingham's northern beltline, which continues to be very much nonexistent despite decades of discussion.

Also in the bill is $100 million for bus rapid transit in Birmingham, which would allow for construction of a 25-mile reversible HOV lane. The allocation depends on local officials finding some matching money for the system, which they haven't done for years despite the availability of an $87 million federal earmark. Jefferson County Commission President Larry Langford says the situation "almost borders on absurdity."

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