Local Lawmaker Drafts Bill In Response To Road Project Delays

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-A local lawmaker who suggests that hardball politics in Montgomery may have been a factor in the recent delay of several Huntsville area road projects is now drafting a bill that will force state agencies to show exactly where they're spending road money.

Rep. Phil Williams (R-Huntsville) told WHNT News 19 that he will sponsor a soon-to-be filed bill called the Transportation Accountability Act. If passed, it would require agencies and public officials who oversee road funding decisions to report where every dollar goes on a county-by-county basis.

Williams said the loss of nearly half a billion dollars worth of road funding in Madison County may be linked to political payback at the state capitol. Rep. Williams told WHNT News 19 that the Huntsville-Madison County legislative delegation was likely punished for failing to support certain legislation this past year, including an amendment by Gov. Robert Bentley (R) that would have delayed the Alabama Accountability Act by two years. Gov. Bentley's amendment was ultimately rejected by the legislature. The road project delays were announced shortly before the legislative session ended.

"There's continually rumors that swirl around the legislature while it's in session that 'so and so' is being offered extra road money in exchange for something, and that's not right," said Williams. "If there are people down in Montgomery that have the power to allocate special road projects, they need to account to the taxpayers on where the money is coming from and where it's going."

Rep. Williams said that if the Transportation Accountability Act were to become law, all road funding information would be listed on a public website.

"It will help us defend these dollars better if we can find out where the money is going," said Williams. "What this will do is let us fight the politics of someone taking money away from us when we're the economic hub of the state...from the governor down to the lowest guy like me, we need to be able to account to the taxpayers on a simple, searchable website."

A spokeswoman with Gov. Bentley's office said she would not comment on Rep. Williams' proposal since the bill had not been filed yet. She also declined to comment on the allegations surrounding road funding delays in Madison County.

Rep. Williams said he would pre-file his transportation bill within the next several weeks.