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Speaker McCutcheon keeping “open mind” on toll bridge project

Eddie Burkhalter

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Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, on Wednesday said he welcomes Gov. Kay Ivey’s called meeting of the group that will have to approve a proposed toll bridge in Mobile.

In a statement released Wednesday McCutcheon said Ivey’s called Oct. 7 meeting of the Alabama Toll Road, Bridge and Tunnel Authority was done “in order to have a full, frank and open discussion about the proposed I-10 Mobile River toll bridge and to hear any alternative funding strategies that might be offered.”

“It is my duty to enter this meeting with an open mind and to fairly consider each proposal based solely upon its merits and its ability to produce the desired outcome,” McCutcheon said.  McCutcheon is one of nine members of the authority. 

His statement follows another by Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth on Monday in which he opposed the toll bridge, saying it would be a burden on working families. Ainsworth also serves on the authority. 

Other state officials who have opposed the toll bridge are Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill and State Auditor Jim Zeigler. Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, and U.S. Senator Doug Jones have also expressed concerns over the toll bridge project. 

McCucheon’s statement also came on the morning that the Mobile Area Metropolitan Planning Organization was to meet to decide whether to remove the toll bridge project from the Transportation Improvement Plan. 

The MPO voted unanimously at Wednesday’s meeting to table the vote on whether to remove the project, according to AL.com, which  could mean much-needed federal funds for the toll bridge will no longer be available, leaving the project in uncertain waters.

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The Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Commission meets next Wednesday, Aug. 28 and is to bring up that same matter, leaving the toll bridge’s federal funding uncertain.

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Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, on Wednesday released the following statement regarding the upcoming meeting of the Alabama Toll Road, Bridge and Tunnel Authority, which is scheduled to be held in Montgomery on Oct. 7.

McCutcheon is one of nine members who statutorily holds a seat on the panel.

His statement reads:

“Gov. Ivey has called an October meeting of the Alabama Toll Road, Bridge and Tunnel Authority in order to have a full, frank and open discussion about the proposed I-10 Mobile River toll bridge and to hear any alternative funding strategies that might be offered.

It is my duty to enter this meeting with an open mind and to fairly consider each proposal based solely upon its merits and its ability to produce the desired outcome.

Everyone agrees that traffic congestion on Alabama’s Gulf Coast is already a serious problem that will only worsen in time.  The devil lies in the details of determining how we can most effectively address the issue.”

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