Ainsworth says ALDOT director ‘must be fired’ for missetting priorities
Ainsworth says ALDOT director ‘must be fired’ for missetting priorities

Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth has reignited his feud with Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) director John Cooper over what he sees as the latter’s neglect of the state’s true infrastructure needs. In an interview with “The Jeff Poor Show,” Ainsworth said Cooper’s pursuit of false priorities from northern Alabama to Mobile and Baldwin County in southern Alabama “will catch up with us in the future.”

“I have reprimanded John Cooper for not doing a good job and I will continue to do so. Ainsworth said: “In my opinion, he has completely disregarded North Alabama by the lack of funding for infrastructure compared to the growth we have seen. And I don’t think he has done a good job. I’ll say it again: He needs to be fired,“, said Ainsworth.

“I mean, he’s not doing a good job as director of ALDOT. He continues to neglect major projects and then he sits there and prioritizes projects like I-43 and Southwest Alabama. That’s fine if that’s what you want to do – but it’s a terrible idea to do this project without federal funding.

Ainsworth said the benefits of reallocating state funds currently earmarked for other projects, such as the $1.5 billion allocated for I-43 and used as a grant, could result in 80 percent of the necessary funds being used from federal sources.

“We are currently working on a plan to make Interstate 65 wider. And it can be done.”

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“I think we should do I-65 right. Take the money they’re spending on the 43, which will probably be $1.5 billion in state funds — not a dollar in federal funds. If you give me that money and use it as a grant to call up 80%, I-65 is done. My message to the people of Alabama is, isn’t it a better use of our funds to take that money and call up 80%? Now you look at $15 billion spent on roads. Do we spend 100% on one project and then use other funds? That’s just common sense. Anybody would say if you can call up 80% — the 43 would qualify for 90%, by the way — why aren’t they going for the federal grant?

“I would also argue that Baldwin County is not getting its due share, added Ainsworth.

“My point is, you always have to go back to the data. And the data says 8 million people are coming to the coast… But as a state, we owe it to the cities in this county to make sure that people are getting in and out effectively and efficiently. And then that adds up to 65… Normally, the drive from here to Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, takes five and a half to six hours, it takes people nine to 10 hours.

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“Was will continue to grow, but I think looking back, we would be foolish if we don’t keep up with the growth from an infrastructure perspective, it will catch up with us,” Ainsworth concluded.

Last year, Governor Kay Ivey announced the widening of Interstate 65 from Alabaster to Calera, the widening of a four-mile stretch of Interstate 59 and a new interchange connecting Interstate 459 to Highway 150. At the time, Ainsworth said, “This is a start.” State lawmakers whose regions benefit from ALDOT’s priorities also publicly dispute the best use of infrastructure projects.

Grayson Everett is the state and politics editor for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270

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By Aurora