The Mobile Bay Bridge and Bayview toll project is dead, now what?
For most of us in the state of Alabama, the opposition to the Mobile Bay Bridge and Bayview project was little more than an exercise in good government.
Should we be using tolls after the state just raised gasoline taxes 10 cents a gallon?
Will the Alabama Department of Transportation be looking at toll projects as a way to do new projects and will that impact I-20, I-565, I-65 or other regional road systems?
Are Governor Kay Ivey and her appointed bureaucrats listening to the citizens of the state?
But for the people of Mobile and Baldwin Counties, this was a quality of life issue, taxation issue and fairness of resource allocation issue.
Mobile FM Talk 106.5’s Sean Sullivan spoke on WVNN radio on Thursday and relayed that while there is a feeling of celebration, there is also a bit of trepidation moving forward with the entire project being killed even though the bridge is needed.
Sullivan noted, “There’s a lot of us that are against the toll but still think the bridge is a good thing.”
Sullivan, like most in the state, believes ALDOT should prioritize areas of need, but he thinks the opposite is about to happen because of the outspoken politicians and citizens who killed this bridge dead. He cited blowback then-Senator Bill Holtzclaw received for ending up on the wrong side of former Governor Robert Bentley and ALDOT Director John Cooper, adding, “I think we are about to be punished in a big way on other road projects.”
Sullivan said if that happens it will be another instance where Mobile and Baldwin Counties don’t get there fair-share.
“We’re, what, 12% of the population and we contribute 30% of the sale tax revenue to Montgomery? We should have a bigger voice in this,” he stated.
What happens next will be interesting to watch.
Will ALDOT punish those who pushed back?
Will other legislators around the state work to get their road dollars?
Will ALDOT offer another major project in another part of the state and attach tolls to it?
Whatever happens, one thing is certain: Citizens and legislators fought what most considered to be a foregone conclusion hoping they could get concessions in the form of more reasonable tolls. Instead, they killed the project entirely and they should feel emboldened.