Both public and private enterprise have provided for the harnessing of Alabama’s rivers to produce electricity. Beginning in 1916, a series of massive dams was constructed, including Wheeler Dam and Wilson Dam, both near Muscle Shoals, and Guntersville Dam. These and other dams were acquired by the TVA in the 1930s. In the second half of the 20th century both the TVA and private utilities have greatly expanded their facilities. In 2006, 69 percent of the electricity generated in Alabama came from steam-driven power plants burning fossil fuels, mainly coal; 23 percent came from nuclear power plants; and the rest came from hydroelectric power plants. In the 1970s five nuclear power plants went into operation, three at Decatur and two at Dothan.
Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile are the chief transportation centers of Alabama. Birmingham is the principal railroad junction and is a focus of several major highways, as are Montgomery and Mobile. In 2009 the airport in Birmingham was the busiest of the state’s 10 airports.
In 2007 Alabama was served by 156,626 km (97,323 mi) of highways, including 1,456 km (905 mi) of the federal interstate highway system. A dense network of railroads extended for 5,362 km (3,332 mi). Some 27 percent of the tonnage of goods hauled by rail and originating in the state was coal, while another 12 percent was wood products such as pulp, paper, or lumber. Mobile, the state’s only major seaport, is one of the leading ports in the South.
The south’s largest bulk coal export facility, and the country’s second largest, is located at the Alabama State Dock. Other products imported and exported include iron ore, grain, gypsum, copper slag, and more forest products than any other U.S. port on the Gulf of Mexico. Mobile lies on the Gulf portion of the Intracoastal Waterway, which extends along the coast from western Florida to the Mexican border. Mobile is also linked with other industrial cities by the Black Warrior, Alabama, and Chattahoochee rivers, which carry a heavy barge traffic in pulpwood, coal, oil products, iron and steel goods, cotton, and chemicals. The Tennessee River is also a major transportation route for barge traffic. In 1985 construction was completed on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, which links the two rivers by means of a canal in northern Mississippi. The waterway provides a shorter water route from the inland eastern states to the Gulf of Mexico at Mobile. "USA" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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