While some drivers don’t think much of the gas tax hike, there are plenty in the local business community who fully support the idea.
As Mobile’s Container Terminal continues to thrive, more trucks are going on the area roads – 2,000 a day now and likely growing.
“The number of trucks we process is going to increase,” said Jimmy Lyons, Director of the Alabama State Port Authority
Lyons if those trucks can’t move quickly out of the area, Mobile’s port could suffer.
“Congestion getting in and out of the port is very much a competitive issue.”
And it’s also a competitive disadvantage in attracting industry.
“It’s beginning to really hamper our development efforts,” said Bill Sisson, President of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce.
Mobile’s had great success in recent years but economic developers say it will be hard to maintain that pace with an insufficient road network
“Manufacturers in particular are interested in infrastructure because they have to move goods and services,” said Sisson. “So it’s really critical that we keep up with our infrastructure.”
The Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce has not taken an official stance on the proposed gas tax hike, but in general has been supportive of infrastructure projects.
The trucking industry is in favor of the hike..
“We support that 100 percent,” said Bill Ward, a Mobile area truck dealer, with the Alabama Truckers Association.
Trucking firms are usually paid to deliver a load in a specific amount of time, so frequent delays mean money.
“It’s very expensive,” Ward said. “You’re idling your truck, you’re using fuel, you got to pay your driver.”
Even local hospitals are on board supporting the gas tax hike.
“The problem is how long it’s taking our emergency vehicles to get from where they pick up the patient to one of our facilities,” said Mark Nix, CEO of Infirmary Health. “That’s a public safety issue.”
All those supporting the tax hike at a special Combined Legislative Transportation Committee hearing in Mobile Tuesday implored lawmakers to have what they called “the political courage” to pass the increase. Among the most mentioned projects needing immediate attention: building the new I-10 Bridge over the Mobile River, extending the Baldwin Beach Express from I-10 to I-65, and widening Highways 98 and 45 in western Mobile County.