Shelby discusses I-85 expansion

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 15, 2008

DEMOPOLIS &8212; Before a packed house in Rooster Hall, Sen. Richard Shelby, (R-Ala.), vowed he will continue to support U.S. troops overseas regardless of the military situation there.

He continued his comments, which drew applause from the audience, by saying there were still challenges in both Iraq and Afghanistan, but also that troops would suffer if they did not get support from their country by pulling funding or other support measures.

In addition to discussing national issues, such as the recent economic downturns in response to what he called &8220;the sub-prime mortgage disaster,&8221; Shelby said Alabama had many things on which to improve and look forward to.

One of the things to look forward to, he said, was the I-85 expansion, for which he was able to secure $100 million in funding. Shelby said the cost of the project would be closer to $1 billion, and that one way to offset costs was to look into the possibility of a toll road.

Shelby touched on other local issues, such as the idea of regionalism, which was brought up by Jennifer James of the Regional Center for Economic Development. Shelby said regionalism was important, especially in the Black Belt.

Shelby also briefly touched on the subject of drug-related crimes after District Attorney Greg Griggers thanked him for his support in getting funding for the forensics lab in Jefferson county and for helping to combat methamphetamine use in the area.

Shelby fielded other questions from the audience, which included such topics as water control, English as a national language, trade with China and veteran&8217;s benefits.