The Alabama State Port Authority said the gas tax increase passed by the state legislature last month is very beneficial for the Port of Mobile.
The money raised will help fix infrastructure, like roads and bridges in the state, but some of that money will go to the port to help deepen and widen the Mobile Shipping Channel.
“I think it's good if it's going to fix up some of these streets,” said Astie Rayford.
“It's bad news that we have to pay more for gas when you account that so many people can't afford that tax,” said Donna Henderson.
The state's current gas tax is 18 cents per gallon. By 2021, it will be 28 cents a gallon.
“It's a game changer for the port,” said Jimmy Lyons, the CEO of the Alabama State Port Authority. “It puts us into a totally new class of ship.”
The project will deepen the Mobile Shipping Channel to 50 feet in most locations, allowing for bigger ships.
“All of our competing ports are doing that,” Lyons said. “So we don't want Alabama to be left behind.”
The project will cost $400 million, $250 million comes from the federal government while the gas tax will pick up the remaining tab.
“Our figures are at a minimum for every dollar invested it will be five dollars returned, not counting the federal share,” Lyons said.
The port said this gas tax is a win because without the money the project would not happen.
“We've had a lot of projects come to Alabama because of us,” Lyons said. “Airbus is an example, came here because of the port.”
Not everyone is sold though.
“Other states have other means to pay for certain things like that,” Henderson said. “They have lotteries, we have casinos on the gulf, so there are many other ways besides taxing people all the time.”
If the port gets all the approvals needed soon, they could start construction as early as late 2020.