Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday sent a letter to the members of the Alabama Toll Road, Bridge and Tunnel Authority rescheduling their public meeting regarding the Mobile River Bridge and Bayway Project from September 17 to October 7 at 1:30 p.m.
In the new letter to the authority members, Ivey explained that when she originally decided to schedule this meeting last Friday, she was unaware that the Coastal Alabama Partnership (CAP), an influential local group of private and public sector leaders, had already scheduled their “Washington, D.C. Fly In” for September 17.
This trip will include approximately 20 local officials from Mobile and Baldwin Counties, as well as other key stakeholders, so Ivey decided to reschedule the public meeting to facilitate increased attendance and engagement, which will better the chances of constructive alternatives being heard.
Since October 7 is on a Monday, members of Alabama’s congressional delegation will have a better chance to attend if they so choose, too.
Ivey further outlined that CAP’s September 17 trip to D.C. will include meetings with White House staff and U.S. DOT senior staff, so having the authority’s public meeting afterwards will allow any potential federal developments on the project to unfold beforehand.
The October 7 meeting of the Alabama Toll Road, Bridge and Tunnel Authority will be held in Montgomery in the auditorium of the State Capitol.
Additionally, Ivey on Tuesday publicly released a letter she sent to State Auditor Jim Zeigler, which came in direct response to his letter to her on Monday regarding the then-September 17 meeting.
Text of Zeigler’s letter was as follows:
Thank you for granting my July 22 request to set a meeting of the Alabama Toll Road, Bridge, and Tunnel Authority. I now ask you to change the date from your September 17 setting. On that date, there are referendums on tax increases in Spanish Fort and Fairhope, Alabama. The very people who will be hard hit by ALDOT’s proposed toll will be going to the polls on a tax increase that day. Please change the date.
I offer to assist you in doing this request. If you tentatively decide a new date, you may feel free to first run it by me and my personal staff of one. We will be glad to check for any problems with a proposed new date for the Alabama Toll Road, Bridge, and Tunnel Authority meeting before you set it.
In her response, Ivey wrote, “Mr. Zeigler, with all due respect, you are mistaken to believe that we set the initial meeting based of the Alabama Toll Road, Bridge and Tunnel Authority based on your July 22 letter.”
She explained that State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) had written to her on July 19 about setting a meeting, before Zeigler ran with the idea. She said other local officials had similarly made requests to her even before that date.
The governor, writing to Zeigler, also emphasized that exploring all options is the “responsible” path rather than simply yelling “no bridge.”
She reiterated her desire to hear any “legitimate, serious” proposals to fund the project.
“Again, I appreciate your many letters on this important matter and would remind you, again, that we are looking for viable alternatives to keep this project alive,” Ivey concluded. “As you will recall, the plans to build a new bridge and enhanced Bayway have been in the works for almost a quarter of a century.”
Sean Ross is the editor for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn