State Sen. Chris Elliott hits statewide talk radio circuit after Gov. Ivey replaces him on ATRIP-II Committee
Last week, Gov. Kay Ivey announced she was replacing State Sen. Chris Elliot (R-Daphne) with State Sen. Vivian Davis Figures (D-Mobile) to serve on the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program-II (ATRIP-II) Committee.
Elliott had become an outspoken critic of the I-10 Mobile River Bridge and Bayway proposal in its late stages before Ivey pronounced it was “dead” immediately after the Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) met on Wednesday to vote on its Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP).
In the days since Elliott was replaced by Figures on the ATRIP-II Committee, which Ivey had said was “a privilege, not an entitlement,” the Baldwin County Republican has appeared on Huntsville radio’s WVNN, Birmingham radio’s Talk 99.5 and Mobile’s FM Talk 106.5 to offer his perspective on the move by the governor.
“I think that is what it is,” Elliott said to WVNN’s Dale Jackson, host of “The Dale Jackson Show.” “I mean, the timing is pretty straightforward, and if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck.”
Jackson asked Elliott if he had any conversations with the Ivey administration since the project’s cancelation.
“I have not,” he replied. “The last conversation I had with the administration was a number of weeks ago, really when I withdrew my support for this project formally, and said, ‘Look, guys, we have tried to work with you. We have tried to come up with additional solutions. You had asked for ideas. You said, ‘Hey, we’re going to have a Toll Authority meeting.” We’re going to ask for ideas, but when the ideas started to roll in, we started talking about phasing the project, and we started talking about paying for it in portions, when we started talking about redesigning the project — it was clear the administration was not interested in any of those ideas, and really cut off communication at that point.”
During his appearance with Talk 99.5’s “Matt & Aunie Show,” where Ivey has made a previous appearance to discuss the toll bridge issue, Elliott expressed the hardship the previously proposed toll would have put on his constituents to co-hosts Matt Murphy and Andrea Lindenberg.
“The toll bridge on top of the gas tax would have meant essentially four times what the gas tax was going to raise here in Baldwin County,” Elliott said. “Can you imagine that being implemented statewide? There was a sweet spot if you will. It was negotiated and pondered over for some time to come up with this six, eight then ten cents finally to get to something. But can you imagine four times that? That was politically untenable, and that was the point I was trying to make to the governor’s office even during the gas tax conversation: If you were headed down this tolling path, you need to understand what that impact may look like in Coastal Alabama and how that will be unacceptable. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t any appetite to listen.”
Immediately following Ivey’s announcement last week, Elliott also spoke with FM Talk 106.5’s Sean Sullivan and focused on the selection of Figures, a Democrat that voted against the gas tax but was not vocal on the toll proposal.
“I think if you look through the other eligible folks that are in the legislature, what will you find, Sean?” he said. “David Sessions from Grand Bay vehemently opposed to this project. Jack Williams from North Mobile has opposed to the tolling project. Sen. Greg Albritton, as you are well aware, opposed to this project. And I think you will see that were folks who were opposed to this project. She may not have had really had anywhere else in South Alabama to look.”