Governor Kay Ivey on Monday appointed State Sen. Vivian Davis Figures (D-Mobile) to serve on the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program-II (ATRIP-II) Committee, replacing State Sen. Chris Elliot (R-Daphne).
ATRIP-II, administered by the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), is a transportation infrastructure grant program for projects of local interest. The program was created this year through the Rebuild Alabama Act. State-maintained highway systems, along with local roads and bridges essential to them, are eligible to receive these grants. The committee is charged with awarding grants to eligible projects.
The governor’s office advised Yellowhammer News that Ivey called Figures Monday morning with news of the appointment, and letters have been delivered to both her office and Elliot’s office.
In a statement, the governor said, “Serving on ATRIP II is a privilege, not an entitlement.”
“It also carries with it significant responsibilities and as such, I have asked Senator Vivian Davis Figures, the most senior senator from the Mobile/Baldwin County Delegation, to take my appointment to this committee,” Ivey continued. “Senator Figures has a proven track-record of seeking progress and finding ways to bring people together who are seeking common ground.”
“Given that South Alabama has so many priorities reflecting the growth and activity in this region, I thought it was better to have someone who knows how to get things done and has a record of working with everyone,” she concluded.
Elliot is a freshman legislator, and Figures has served in the state senate since 1997. She was considering a challenge to Alabama Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Worley earlier this year but dropped out of contention in June.
The ATRIP-II Committee is now comprised of: ALDOT Director John Cooper; State Sens. Arthur Orr, Vivian Davis Figures and Garlan Gudger; Reps. Bill Poole, Steve Clouse and Debbie Wood; and Association of County Commissions of Alabama immediate past president and Choctaw County Commissioner Tony Cherry.
Elliot’s removal comes soon after the death of the I-10 Mobile River Bridge and Bayway project.
In a statement, he pointed to “withdraw[ing]” his support for this project as a factor in his removal. Elliot also provided a copy of the letter his office received, which can be viewed here.
“I was disappointed to initially learn through a single online blog of the Governor’s decision to remove me from the ATRIP II Committee,” Elliot said.
“Unfortunately, this action did not come as a surprise,” he continued. “It’s clear that the Governor’s office is disappointed with my decision to withdraw my support from her flawed I-10 Mobile River Bridge and Bayway proposal.”
“I have long been and remain a supporter of a solution for the I-10 corridor, but as details of the scheme proposed by ALDOT were made available, it was clear that this was a bad deal for my constituents and bad deal for Coastal Alabama. Despite this action, I remain committed to work with the Governor’s office on a realistic solution for this critical infrastructure need,” Elliot concluded.
Reacting to Elliot’s statement, Gina Maiola, the governor’s press secretary, advised, “The governor’s decision to appoint Sen. Figures is reflective of her leadership style – goal oriented and results driven.”
“As the governor mentioned, ‘serving on ATRIP II is a privilege, not an entitlement.’ It makes sense for Sen. Figures, the most senior senator from the Mobile/Baldwin County Delegation, who has a proven track record of seeking progress and seeking common ground, to serve in this capacity,” Maiola added.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn