A Report on Alabama’s Crumbling County Infrastructure

Published by the Association of County Commissions of Alabama

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Since 1992, for Alabama’s roads and bridges, there’s been an absence of magnitude or quantity.

We’ve gotten by.

We’ve patched potholes.

We’ve pieced together culverts.

We’ve used innovative ways to recycle asphalt and put it back on the roads.

But in reality, we’ve done nothing.

We’ve tried to do something – many, many times.

But the answer has always been the same – wait another year or two; be more efficient.

Do nothing.

Alabama’s transportation network, in great part, is maintained by its 67 county governments, each operating independently with a limited budget for both maintenance and construction of paved and unpaved roads and bridges.

No resurfacing material in existence is built to withstand the daily traffic of school buses, first responders, farmers, loggers and private citizens for 114 years.

And 114 years is the current cycle at which we are resurfacing county roads in Alabama — a state where the aforementioned daily traffic, coupled with our well-known dramatic fluctuations in the weather, can easily wreak havoc on local infrastructure.

County Roads should be on a 15-year resurfacing cycle, which means resurfacing 2,986 miles annually.

Bridges should be on a 50-year replacement cycle.

Over the next 5 years, less than 2% of county bridges will be replaced.

Infrastructure exists to allow our communities to run efficiently and safely.

Yet, after nearly 30 years of insufficient funding to Alabama’s 67 county governments, county roads and bridges are gaining notoriety for quite the opposite of their intended purpose.

Unlike cities, counties in Alabama cannot establish a fuel tax to fund the maintenance and construction of their roads and bridges.

Approval from the Alabama Legislature is required.

Therefore, county infrastructure budgets rely heavily on their share of the state gasoline tax, especially since counties currently do not receive a share of the state’s diesel fuel tax.

Since 2003, inflation on road and bridge construction has increased twice as much as the consumer price index.

Improvements in fuel efficiency continue to undercut funding for necessary infrastructure.

Counties currently receive $112,838,408 every year for the maintenance and construction of both roads and bridges.

If you were to take a rough, often hazardous, drive through all 67 Alabama counties, you would quickly realize that the infrastructure crisis is not isolated within a particular area of the state.

Certainly, the cost of doing nothing for 27 years is visible in each and every county.

Want an in-depth look at the infrastructure crisis occurring within each of Alabama’s counties?

The insights revealed come from a November 2018 survey in which the Association of County Commissions of Alabama collected data from the Engineering Departments of all 67 counties.