During an appearance on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal” that aired Friday, Gov. Kay Ivey took on critics of a $2.1 billion bridge over the Mobile Bay that included toll revenues as a means of financing.
Ivey categorized some of the criticism as “noise” and attributed it to politicians seeking a particular office.
“We got a lot of folks running for office for some position,” Ivey said. “There is a lot of noise in the system. We need solutions, not just noise.”
The governor pointed to the October 7 meeting of the Alabama Toll Road, Bridge, and Tunnel Authority as a forum for “solutions” to be offered. She acknowledged federal funding wasn’t what was hoped and added that Alabama’s congressional delegation might be able to offer “light at the end of the tunnel.”
“We’ve got a congressional delegation,” she said. “I’m hoping they can weigh in as well and give us some light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve just got to find a way to pay for the bridge. I’m looking for solutions, not just concerns.”
Dailey questioned Ivey on the engineering aspects of the bridge, some of which have been raised by members of the local legislative delegation.
“We can look at anything that can be recommended as reasonable in the design engineering,” Ivey said. “In fact, there was a meeting of engineers, not just ALDOT engineers but engineers to meet with the delegation from Mobile and Baldwin County to help clarify some of the design concerns that have to be met. And laypeople are just not familiar with engineering or what’s required to build – especially over a river and with the widening of the port, it’s going to be some large vessels coming in, which again promotes commerce even from North Alabama.”
Ivey reiterated her hope for some resolution at the October toll authority meeting but said that it wouldn’t be until long after that meeting when everything is discussed and studied can a final decision be made.
“I want some solid good ideas of how we can pay for this bridge,” she added. “That’s the bottom line. We don’t need to know your concerns. We need to know some proposed solutions that are reasonable and can be implemented. And even after the meeting, we’ll have to study those and verify, etc., etc. This is a good opportunity, and everybody has got time to get prepared with the facts. Let’s deal with the facts and not innuendos or whatever. Let’s deal with the facts of how to make this project viable and passable and doable because Alabama’s future rest on getting this done so we can improve our commerce.”
Dailey asked if the project was going to proceed with or without tolls, to which she said it would “definitely.”
“Definitely,” she replied, adding tolls were possible but that she hoped there was a way to have no tolls.