John Cooper, ALDOT ignore Jim Ziegler public records request for 3mo, Zeigler forced to give hard deadline

Orange Beach

After three months of being ignored by Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) Transportation Director John Cooper and ALDOT Chief Counsel William Patty, Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler is doubling down on his efforts of questioning the spending priorities of the ALDOT.

On Thursday, Zeigler was forced to send a second letter to Cooper and Patty requesting further information about an $87 million state-funded bridge project in Baldwin County — which would be a second bridge to Orange Beach. But this time, Zeigler isn’t taking their silence as an answer; he’s given Cooper and Patty a deadline to respond: August 17.

Zeigler again 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.

“Please let me know who will be working on this request or if there is a problem with getting the information requested by August 17,” Zeigler wrote in his letter.

Zeigler sent his first letter requesting the information back in April.

“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 in April. “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 second letter below: