State Auditor Jim Zeigler questions ALDOT’s John Cooper about spending priorities

Orange Beach Ala.
Looking east in the surf along the gulf coast in Orange Beach, Ala. [Photo Credit: fritzmb via Flickr]
Tasked with providing accountability to the taxpayers of Alabama by maintaining accurate records of all personal property valued at $500 and above, State Auditor Jim Zeigler is taking his responsibility to the people of Alabama one step further: questioning the spending priorities of the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT).
On Tuesday, Zeigler sent a letter to John Cooper, Transportation Director at ALDOT and William Patty, ALDOT Chief Counsel, inquiring about the need for an $87 million state-funded bridge project in Baldwin County — which would be a second bridge to Orange Beach.

Zeigler requested the following documents from the ALDOT:

  1. Copies of any and all studies that demonstrated a need for a bridge over the Intercoastal waterway
  2. Any and all documents that show a change in the need for the Intercoastal bridge since the determination in 2016 that the bridge was unnecessary
  3. Any and all analyses to support spending $30-$87 million in state funds in light of the pressing infrastructure needs throughout the state
  4. Any and all documents that resulted in the range of costs projected ($30 to $87 million)
  5. Documents that show cost overruns on current and recent ALDOT projects
  6. According to the court filing from the bridge company, they agreed to widen their bridge at no additional cost to Please provide any and all documents that address why the option of widening the original bridge is not being utilized.
“I have more questions than I do answers about the proposed additional bridge.  I hope to solve that with my specific requests for public records,” Zeigler explained. “With other pressing needs for infrastructure improvements, we need to make sure that this $30 to $87 million-dollar project is the best use of our limited funds.”

Zeigler continued, “Could this money be better spent to finish ‘Bloody 98’ in Mobile County; to solve congestion on I-65, U.S. 280 and I-565; and to address dozens of local projects? The public needs to know, and I intend to figure it out.”

Read Zeigler’s letter below:


  1. I really hope the State Auditor can actually obtain the requested documents and bring some transparency to the way things are done in this state. Hard to understand what has changed since the original report did not support another bridge. But 18 months later, it seems we now need another bridge that is estimated to cost somewhere between 30 and 87 MILLION dollars.. That’s a 50 MILLION dollar spread. The rational is that the new bridge will somehow relieve congestion in Orange Beach. Help me understand the math here. If there are 10,000 cars crossing into Orange Beach each day using the existing bridge, How does it reduce “congestion” by moving 5,000 cars on the “old” bridge and 5,000 on the “new” bridge. There are still 10,000 cars converging on Orange Beach. Get same result if there were a dozen bridges. Its still 10,000 cars. So reducing “congestion” is a smoke screen. As indicated by Mr Zeigler, the funds may well be better used elsewhere on Alabama streets. But I suspect the ALDOT will decide the State Auditor should focus his efforts on accounting for things greater than 500 dollars and let the bosses at the Alabama Department of Transportation do their “job” and spend 30 MILLION plus the requisite 50 MILLION in cost overruns on a second bridge to Orange Beach. Its about the money, just follow the money.

  2. That’s the way they do things in this state. It’s easier to skim money from the state than a private company. Look back to the four lane project from the interstate to the private bridge. Who was the Governor and who built the private bridge? The good ole boys REPUBLICANS

  3. And would that be the past Governor who was forced out of office or the one who went to jail? I don’t care which political persuasion it is, there is no justification for another bridge that’s within sight of the other one. Seems we may indeed have the best (worst) politicians money can buy. regardless of which side of the isle they sit on. Its all about the money, just follow the money.

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