Alabama lawmakers may take up gas tax increase in 2019

MADISON, Ala. - Next month, lawmakers will head back to Montgomery to prepare for next year's legislative session. Right now, drivers in Alabama are paying just under 23 cents a gallon in state fuel taxes. The diesel tax is about 22 cents.

It's stayed right there since 1992, and some lawmakers and city leaders argue it makes sense to add some cents to the tax to pay for fixing and expanding Alabama roads.

In less than a year, the four-way stop on Browns Ferry Road will be gone.

"It's no doubt the most effective way to move vehicles," said Michael McCollum, who works for White Oak Transportation.

Madison city leaders admit a forum to look over road plans is normally a dry affair.

"I think most of the residents don't care much about the roads as long as they're moving," Chynoweth said. "And right now, this road is starting to slow down and not move."

But as city leaders are planning for future growth, they're committing close to $10 million in capital improvement money to widen both Hughes and Browns Ferry Road.

"We're designing as fast as we can," Chynoweth said. "We're expecting this to be under construction in the summer of 2019."

It promises to be a busy summer in Madison. Right now, drivers in Huntsville and Madison are enjoying $2 a gallon at the pump. That may be as low as you'll see it for a while, as lawmakers are considering a gas tax increase when they head back to the capitol in three months.

"Every time a large company comes in and evaluates a site, they look at the logistics of that site," McCollum said.

Alabama's gas tax has remained less than a quarter a gallon for over 25 years. The idea failed in Montgomery in 2017, but lawmakers appear eager to take up the issue in 2019.

"I definitely understand the anti-tax sentiment, but it's so strong here, I think they're going to have a tough climb to get any type of legislation passed," McCollum said.

This year, the city of Huntsville has received a little over $1 million from the state treasury from gas and license taxes. Madison has received about $236,000.

Lawmakers have an organizational meeting in Montgomery in January. The session officially begins on March 5th.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle was unavailable for an on-camera interview, but says he supports a gas tax increase.

“The legislature faces a serious issue – how to fund roads. The state has reached a point, with its crumbling infrastructure and failing bridges, that lawmakers are going to have to decide the best method to pay for much-needed improvements in our state highway and Interstate system. In Huntsville, we have been proactive and funded critically needed roadwork through Restore Our Roads. We believe the state needs to act on a plan to do likewise,”  Mayor Battle said in a written statement.

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