Mobile Bay tolls could eventually turn into tolls in your part of the state
A massive $2.1 billion road project is causing people in the Mobile area to bristle at the idea of a toll costing $6 every time they cross the bridge.
According to a poll, 77% of those in the region oppose the toll project.
But the question remains, “Does the rest of the state care?”
If AL.com’s John Sharp’s latest story is to be believed, the answer is “nope.”
Sharp talked to radio and TV talk show hosts, state senators, has-been commentators and party leaders outside of the affected area and they appeared to be indifferent to the controversy.
“Guerrilla Politics” co-host Waymon Burke worries about the precedent but doesn’t seem to think there is much anger organically growing.
Excerpt from Sharp’s article as follows:
The shock has been explored on talk radio by Waymon Burke, a political science professor at Calhoun Community College. Burke and co-host Dale Jackson have poured over the I-10 tolling issue on their show, “Guerrilla Politics.”
“The primary concern that Dale and I have talked about quite a bit is that it does set a dangerous precedent around the state,” said Burke. “Statewide, we don’t want to pay for it.”
Burke said that the radio attention appears to be spreading a larger awareness of the tolling’s import.
State Senator Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) believes no one cares, but talk radio keeps hitting it.
“It’s being discussed more on talk radio than I would have expected,” Givhan told Sharp. “That’s a bit of a surprise.”
He added, “People up here largely consider that a coastal Alabama issue.”
Political columnist Steve Flowers believes it’s a non-issue.
Excerpt as follows:
Steve Flowers, a former Republican in the Alabama House who now writes a statewide column about Alabama politics, said for the “average person in this state” who does not live in Mobile and Baldwin counties, “they could care less.”
But will that continue?
Auburn political science professor David Hughes says it is “unlikely” voters in other parts of the state will care “until tolls affect individuals’ daily commutes, it’s unlikely to gain widespread salience anytime soon.”
But it could affect their daily commutes if the Alabama Department of Transportation Director John Cooper gets his way.
Cooper reportedly told legislators that toll roads were the future for road projects in the state, but an ALDOT spokeswoman said there are no current plans in place for more tolls.
Regardless, 77% of those polled in the region oppose the toll project while the rest of the state apparently shrugs and says this is not their fight.
State Representative Andrew Sorrell (R-Muscle Shoals) called into WVNN radio’ in Huntsville Thursday morning and said he thinks this is round one of a big fight.
Sorrell suggested that legislation to address the issue of tolls could be proposed in the next legislative session and noted that members of regions affected will be interested in moving that legislation forward.
He also wondered why we passed a $400 million dollar gas tax if we are just going to do tolls on these projects.
Sorrell added that by the time people start caring, it may be too late.
He told “The Dale Jackson Show,” “When they start tolling I-565, it is going to be an issue in our area,” adding, “It’s going to be an issue in North Alabama.”
The anti-toll fight is currently raging over one bridge over the Mobile Bay, and that may be where all the attention is right now, but if it succeeds, it seems pretty clear that the tolls will not end there.