Last week, the Alabama Supreme Court dealt a devastating blow to the Ivey administration and the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) regarding its handling of a bridge project over the Intracoastal Waterway in South Baldwin County.

In a 5-3 ruling, the state's high court upheld Montgomery County Circuit Judge Jimmy Pool's temporary injunction halting the bridge's construction until the court could consider the matter.

During an appearance on Friday's broadcast of Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5's "The Jeff Poor Show," State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Josephine), who represents the district in which the bridge would be located, criticized Gov. Kay Ivey for the hurdles ALDOT is facing.

Elliott said the lack of communication between Ivey and ALDOT director John Cooper was cause for concern.

"I think 'disaster' is a good word for it," he said. "It is certainly one of those things that I am shaking my head at. I remember talking to bridge proponents. Obviously, this is in my district. It is very important these additional lanes across the canal, for me." I said, 'Guys, let's just be clear about this. Just because John Cooper says he is going to build you a bridge does not mean he is actually going to be able to do it.' We may end up in a situation here we didn't accept – that ALDOT didn't accept the deal that the bridge company was offering and decided to go a different path. And we were going to be mired in court battles. This is where we find ourselves."

"More concerning to me — you and I have talked about this before. More concerning to me is I talked about this exact eventuality with the Governor's office, with her senior staff and with the Department of Transportation," Elliott continued. "And I know the commissioners did. The mayors did as well. John Cooper said on the stand that the Governor and he had not talked about this project since 2017. The kids that just graduated from high school were in sixth grade the last time that John Cooper and the Governor talked about this project despite all of these local elected officials, these local county commissioners, the state senator for the area saying this is going to be a mess. The Governor for the state of Alabama, who should be leading on transportation policy, did not pick up the phone to call John Cooper and say, 'What are we doing here? This has fleas on it.'"

The Baldwin County Republican lawmaker said while Cooper was not entirely blameless, he still saw Ivey as the central figure at fault.

"I've known [John Cooper] for a long, long time," Elliott said. "You're exactly right. That's how he is. But it is amazing to me that the Governor is not directing transportation policy and priorities in the state of Alabama. I mean, the buck stops with her. Everyone can pile on John, and I'm certainly not defending Director Cooper and his actions on this. As a matter of fact, I'm very critical of the methodology used to move forward on this project. But at the end of the day, this is a failure of leadership from the Governor's office. Allowing this to happen like it has happened, full well knowing because you had folks like me and others telling them this is problematic, and didn't even pick up the phone and call him? That is a failure of leadership at the highest level."

Jeff Poor is the executive editor of 1819 News and host of "The Jeff Poor Show," heard Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon on Mobile's FM Talk 106.5. To connect or comment, email or follow him on Twitter @jeff_poor.

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