Memorial Day Weekend travel and boating safety, Tuscaloosa County tax breaks for Mercedes-Benz

May 22, 2015

Tuscaloosa County officials have approved larger tax breaks for Mercedes-Benz to help offset expansion costs at the automaker's plant in Vance.

The Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority agreed Thursday to increase the value of tax abatements granted to Mercedes to about $28.1 million. That's up from $12.5 million in tax abatements for the automaker that were approved in 2011.

The extra tax breaks were awarded to Mercedes after it spent $670 million expanding its Alabama plant - more than double the $289 million the company initially estimated it would spend. Officials say the expansion added nearly 1,000 new jobs.

The authority also approved an additional $1.1 million in tax abatements for Mercedes to help offset the cost of site preparation work for potential future expansion.

The Memorial Day weekend gets underway today. Alabama’s Triple-A says over thirty seven million Americans will be traveling a distance of fifty miles or more during the holiday. That’s almost a five percent increase from last year. Triple-A spokesman Clay Ingram says the end of the school, low gas prices, and an improving economy are just a few factors putting more cars on the road over Memorial Day…

“We’re going to be busy, no question about it. We get not just the Alabama residents that will be traveling, but we get a lot of drive through traffic. Traffic is going to be rough on the interstates and the other major highways, so we need to be prepared for that. Anybody that’s going to be out traveling and driving over the weekend needs to plan accordingly.”

Ingram says extra drivers on the road make safety more important than usual over the weekend. He says everyone should plan to leave early and stay focused on the road.

The Memorial Day weekend signals the unofficial start of Summer. It also marks the wrap-up of National Boating Safety week. The event is focused on teaching the public proper safety procedures if you’re on or near the water.

Sergeant Walter Lacey is the Education Supervisor for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Marine Patrol. He says if anyone needs a safety reminder, just look to the storm that killed boaters in the gulf waters off of Mobile…

“I do believe that after a tragic event like the Regatta, that boating safety is a little more on everyone’s mind. After having spent the winter in, they’ve kind of forgotten those safe practices that they were using all along.”

Some of those safe practices include wearing lifejackets and avoiding alcohol. The public can also showcase their commitment to safety by posting photos wearing life jackets. Be sure to tag those shots to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.