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Roadscapes Wednesday: The Calls Are Growing For ALDOT Against Tolling The Interstate 10 Mobile River Bridge

As of this post, the folks from the corrupt ALDOT, yeah they’re corrupt, are still calling for tolling the new Interstate 10 Mobile River Bridge and rebuilt Jubilee Parkway.  And because of the potential $3-6 per one way trip toll on the new bridge is still on the table, there is a growing number of people who are boycotting and are calling for a rejection of these tolls.

There is a Facebook group called Block the Mobile Bayway Toll.  Currently over 23,000 people have joined this group with more people joining every day.  The group is run by state auditor Jim Zeigler.  He has been calling for ALDOT to find other ways to fund this new bridge without using tolls.  And according to many people, they agree with him.  If a toll of $6 was instituted on the new bridge, for the average person commuting five days a week back and forth it would mean over $3,000 per year in tolls.

So understandably, many people are extremely upset about the idea of tolls, and many people are beginning to revolt.  And it seems ALDOT is not listening to the concerns of the many people living in Mobile and Baldwin counties.  I mean, having closed door meetings away from the public and then having director John Cooper saying no with a smirk on his face and not revealing anything is making more people angrier.

Now ALDOT is telling everyone it’s either tolls or no bridge.  And as you can guess, many people on the Block the Mobile Bayway Toll Facebook Group are happily saying no.  Some have even put out some clever and funny memes.

And today, Jim Zeigler wrote this on the Facebook group.

We are being heard. State media picks up on “The People vs. The Tollsters”

A number of critics raised concerns about the plan that would contract with a private company to build the I-10 bridge connecting Mobile and Baldwin Counties. The company would then collect tolls, from electronic toll towers rather than traditional toll booths, for reportedly as many as the next fifty years in order to recover their investment into this state.

The state legislature just passed the largest gas tax increase in the history of the state passing the legislature just months ago. They also passed legislation enabling ALDOT to make toll agreements and for citizens who refuse to pay their toll bills to lose their vehicle registration privileges.
Critics question the mad rush to begin the project, why ALDOT gave up on obtaining federal funding for this project after the denial of a massive grant application last summer, and the wisdom of building such a tall structure in an area that is known for devastating hurricanes.

State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) has been an outspoken opponent of the project and warns that if this passes new corporate controlled toll bridges and roads will spread to other parts of the state.

“Tolls are the new tax of the future,” Zeigler said Wednesday at a major speech to the Guntersville Civitans.
Zeigler says the enabling bill applies to the entire state, and that the Mobile Bay toll is only the first of many across the state.

Critics of the project point out that the census tract that the toll bridge is in has been designated a federal opportunity zone by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R). If the toll bridge were approved as a federal opportunity zone project then the companies that build the toll bridge will get tens of millions in potential taxes deferred or declared taxfree. Opportunity zones are designed, in theory, to address pockets of chronic generational poverty; but much of the opportunity zones designated by Kay Ivey appear to be along interstate corridors.

Many people are still angry about the 12 cent gas tax being rammed through the legislature.  And now many people are getting angrier because many of our politicians and ALDOT are not listening to them.  ALDOT has had a long history of not listening to people and doing projects based from politicians and special interest groups, so it’s no surprise this is happening now as well.  Want to know what I would like to do:

  1. ALDOT needs a new director and John Cooper needs to go.
  2. ALDOT and the Alabama government needs to find any way possible to not toll this bridge.
  3. ALDOT needs to start listening to the people and base and fund projects from the people, not from politicians and special interest groups.

Will that ever happen?  Not in my lifetime!  ALDOT will continue to be the same old corrupt good ole boys transportation office.  And it’s sad, because Alabama’s infrastructure could be way better if we had a better DOT.

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