Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth believes the state has enough money to fund construction of the Mobile River Bridge project without assessing tolls on drivers.
Ainsworth gave his opinion on the subject when asked about it at a Mobile County Republican Party meeting Monday evening at Holy Cross Lutheran Church on Airport Boulevard.
“We have the money to do it,” Ainsworth said. “It has to be a priority of the (state) DOT. Certainly, the money is there.”
In his remarks, Ainsworth touted a surplus in both the Education Trust Fund and the General Fund, which could help with the project.
“The state’s doing well,” he said.
In business, Ainsworth said owners invest where a company is booming and right now, with the work happening at the port and within the aerospace industry, the area on both sides of Mobile Bay is booming. He said the adage should apply to the state as well.
“This part of the state is booming,” he said. “We’ve got to invest in that.”
In a joint effort at a special meeting in Daphne last month, the Mobile and Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning organizations sent a framework for the project to Gov. Kay Ivey and Alabama Department of Transportation Director John Cooper. The framework demands a limit of $2.50 maximum for tolls on personal vehicles. The letter also demands that tolls should only be levied on new infrastructure and toll revenue must pay down project debt. Tolling should end when original debt is paid, and any new federal or state funding should be used to pay down project debt in order to reduce tolling cost or duration. Revenue from this project should be used to pay for this project, not for other purposes.
No-toll options for personal vehicles should also be included, the MPOs letter stated. The letter also demanded the state come up with a “long-term, comprehensive solution” rather than a piecemeal, phased approach.
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