Mobile Register misses mark on roads editorial

Monday, the Mobile Register offered apologies for ALDOT in response to The Reason Foundation’s analysis of the poor quality of state roads. Apparently pulled straight from an ALDOT press release, the editorial board defended ALDOT’s work, citing ALDOT’s efforts on hurricane evacuation routes – which they noted most other states don’t have to worry about – expansion of roadways around the state, and rural shoulder expansion.

Report overplays highway problems – Mobile Register

It also gave ALDOT a pass on highway fatalities, stating that 80 to 90 percent of fatalities come from driver error, not the roadway or roadway design.

But the Register missed the point.

Virtually all of the transportation dollars spent in Alabama are spent on roads. Other states spend money on roads AND on mass transit and alternative transit options such as walking and biking trails/sidewalks, and they are ranked higher than Alabama.

Also, the Foundation cited poor quality of rural and urban roads, which only leaves suburban roads to be of high quality. Does the Register find that ALDOT’s investment in new roads in suburbia is acceptable to neglecting urban and rural roadways?

Furthermore, ALDOT loves to shirk their responsibility for highway fatalities and suburban sprawl. They say it is their job to design and build the roads to try to KEEP UP WITH GROWTH. However, their investments in road projects only CAN DRIVE GROWTH. Correlated to that is highway fatalities. More congestions, more cars on the roads, and the more roads for cars to be on, INCREASES THE LIKELIHOOD OF FATALITIES.

If citizens of Alabama had CHOICES besides driving their car to exurbia for their homes, their shopping, and their jobs due to the transportation decisions of the last five decades, we’d have improved environmental quality, stronger urban core neighborhoods, less traffic and more mass transportation, and overall healthier people.

But when an agency has only one job to do, and it doesn’t do that well, the Mobile Register, or anyone else, should not apologize for them. We should be finding comprehensive solutions to systemic problems, not gobbling up ALDOT’s spin as our talking points.

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