CBL has been sounding the alarm on the reckless spending being proposed down at the beach in South Alabama. We aren’t alone in our concerns. The issue has received statewide coverage in recent weeks with local opponents questioning the decision (or reconsideration) that led to the bridge project being green lighted after a 2016 decision found it wasn’t needed. Their concerns aren’t just financial either. Residents worry about the effect the bridge will have on traffic congestion, insisting rather than alleviate problems it will increase them and then voicing concerns about the use of eminent domain to take private property to build the bridge.
On April 12, Baldwin County court order was made public that paved the way for the next steps in the legal opposition to ALDOT’s $87 million bridge project. The ruling found that both ALDOT Director Cooper and Baldwin County Mayor Kennon must appear before the court to answer questions about the project and the circumstances leading up to its proposal. This ruling means a statewide agency director and a local mayor have been subpoenaed to appear under oath for a merit hearing set now for April 24 and 25 in Fairhope.
As it stands, the $87 million bridge plan has been tabled by the Florida/Alabama Transportation Planning Organization (TPO)’s Technical, Citizens Advisory and TPO boards due to lack of information. No traffic, environmental or transportation planning studies have been presented, nor has documentation of public participation related to the project been shown, yet ALDOT continues to push for this wasteful project.
The fact that two public officials are being called to a condemnation hearing shows that the public is taking this seriously and that this misuse of eminent domain to waste $87 million in taxpayer money will not be allowed without a fight.
Following the decision that Cooper must testify, State Auditor sent a letter of request for public records to ALDOT himself.
According to a news story by Alabama Today, “I have more questions than I do answers about the proposed additional bridge. I hope to solve that with my specific requests for public records,” Zeigler explained. “With other pressing needs for infrastructure improvements, we need to make sure that this $30 to $87 million-dollar project is the best use of our limited funds.”
These are his questions:
Zeigler requested the following documents from the ALDOT:
- Copies of any and all studies that demonstrated a need for a bridge over the Intercoastal waterway
- Any and all documents that show a change in the need for the Intercoastal bridge since the determination in 2016 that the bridge was unnecessary
- Any and all analyses to support spending $30-$87 million in state funds in light of the pressing infrastructure needs throughout the state
- Any and all documents that resulted in the range of costs projected ($30 to $87 million)
- Documents that show cost overruns on current and recent ALDOT projects
- According to the court filing from the bridge company, they agreed to widen their bridge at no additional cost to Please provide any and all documents that address why the option of widening the original bridge is not being utilized.
Through court order or public records request, we join the fiscally conservative tax payers of Alabama who are looking for answers from ALDOT and the Governors office on this project.