Future of halted ATRIP road projects remains unclear

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MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) – Amid Friday’s celebrations over the County Line Road I-565 interchange, questions remain about two other major road projects put on the back burner by the state.

It all started when Senator Bill Holtzclaw put up a billboard reading “Governor Bentley wants to raise your taxes. I will not let that happen. Semper Fi.”

In retaliation, John Cooper, Director of the Alabama Department of Transportation, pulled funding for two road projects in the senator’s district.

On Friday, Cooper stood among the crowd with Governor Bentley and Senator Holtzclaw as they cut the ribbon on the ATRIP project. However, he declined to comment on what’s next for the Jeff Road and Highway 72 West widening projects he stalled.

Governor Bentley and Senator Bill Holtzclaw both say they have talked cordially, but the projects’ fate remains unclear.

“I’ll be announcing that at the appropriate time,” Bentley told WHNT News 19.

Meanwhile, the budget debate draws on in Montgomery.

Senator Holtzclaw is standing firm in his opposition to a tax increase and the Governor’s response.

“North Alabama created more jobs than any other segment of the state. Roads are supposed to be built based on need, but you have a portion of the state that’s providing so much to the state and helps support the state, said Holtzclaw. “The tax increases that have been announced by the governor have nothing to do with roads.”

The senator says he has his constituents’ support and, despite this difference of opinion, continues to support the governor.