When it comes to Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) director John Cooper, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth doesn’t mince words.

With Cooper facing a lawsuit over a bridge project in Baldwin County, assault charges in Marshall County and failing to prioritize widening I-65, Ainsworth said it’s time for new leadership at ALDOT for the good of the state.

“If I was governor, I’d fire him. I wouldn’t even give him a chance to resign, that’s how strongly I feel about that,” Ainsworth said on a recent episode of “The 1819 News Podcast.” “[H]e’s just failing at leadership in every area… If I was the governor, he’d certainly be fired on day one. Period.”

Ainsworth said he’s familiar with Cooper's “bullying” tactics having dealt with him when Ainsworth served in the Alabama House of Representatives. He said he now gets calls every week from business owners complaining about ALDOT forcing them to foot the bill for redoing roads and adding turning lanes to connect to the main highway instead of using the existing infrastructure.

“When you look at that, the complaint I get from business owners is ALDOT’s not business friendly. That’s a big issue,” Ainsworth said. “Leadership goes back to the top, and the fact that he’s from the business community and he’s forgotten that as a business owner, man, it’s tough. Government should be there to help businesses, not get in the way and add extra burdens.”

“My point on John Cooper is he’s a bully. He does not care about what’s in the best interest of the state,” he added. “...Now he’s got caught up in a lawsuit. I’d love to see those records and conversations. I think his style is ‘I’m just going to run over you and bulldoze,’ and I think that’s the wrong style.”

Ainsworth criticized Cooper's and Gov. Kay Ivey’s $1 billion West Alabama Corridor Project to complete four-lane access between Mobile and Tuscaloosa instead of focusing on widening I-65 to ease congestion.

“That’s not as big a priority as I-65,” Ainsworth said. “I-65 is our main corridor, and the fact that [Cooper’s] not prioritizing that and we’re not getting stuff done that’s really impacting people is frustrating.”

“There’s not a plan on this, and I think that’s failed leadership again," he continued. "[I]t’s unusual for a lieutenant governor to get out there and call for the resignation of the ALDOT director, but he’s not doing a good job. If he was, I’d be giving him a high-five.”

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email daniel.taylor@1819news.com.

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