Alabama state lawmaker calls for new direction at DOT

| 11/21/2007

The leading lawmaker in the Alabama House is pushing for changes in the state Department of Transportation.

House Speaker Seth Hammett, D-Andalusia, wants new laws that would help improve the state’s transportation system. He said four bills came out of the House during this year’s session to change how ALDOT does business. But the Senate failed to take up the efforts.

The House-approved legislation sought to change the structure of the department, give the DOT responsibility over water transportation and short rail transportation, as well as couple public tax money with money from private sources to build toll roads, The Huntsville Times reported.

The bill to change the DOT structure called for eliminating the governor’s power to appoint the transportation director. Instead, a five-person commission would hire the director. The governor would appoint the five members of the commission to staggered terms.

Hammett said changing the DOT director every time there is a switch in the governor’s seat creates problems with long-range transportation planning for the state. It makes it impossible to develop plans beyond three and one-half years, he told The Times.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Alabama in 2007, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor