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Ainsworth wants I-65 widening a priority over other projects

MONTGOMERY — Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth is calling on state leaders to focus on expanding Interstate 65 over other road projects in Alabama.

Ainsworth, who has become one of the state’s leading advocates for expanding I-65 to six lanes through the state, questioned the money being allocated for the West Alabama Corridor instead of prioritizing the need on I-65.

“It’s time to restore common sense planning and fiscal responsibility to roadbuilding in Alabama,” Ainsworth said on X. “While standstill traffic on I-65 frustrates millions of Alabamians and tourists, we cannot commit more than $1 billion in state dollars to a rural highway.”

The West Corridor Project will expand U.S. Highway 43 to four lanes from Mobile to Tuscaloosa.

The lieutenant governor also used another traffic jam on I-65 over the weekend to highlight why he believes expanding that highway should be first on the list.

“Once again I’m sitting on the world’s longest parking lot with a lot of other frustrated people,” he said. “These standstill traffic jams affect our state’s commerce, tourism, and basic quality of life. Widening I-65 has to take priority over ALDOT’s pet projects and lesser needs.”

While Ainsworth believes I-65 should take precedence, U.S. Sen. Katie Britt (R-Montgomery) has suggested a middle ground on the issue.

“I think you have to be judicious, you have to look at the whole state; we have needs in every single corner of the state,” Britt said on WRBC. “We have to make sure that we’re looking at the whole state and that we’re doing all of it, so I don’t think there’s one answer over another.

“I think that that means we have to work hard and work together to invest in every corner of the state, invest in your main thoroughfares, but can’t forget about your rural communities, they’re important too, and they’re an important part of the state.”

Transportation department officials believe the total cost of the West Corridor project could be close to $1.1 billion.

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