Judge tells state to ‘cease and desist’ from building new bridge over intracoastal waterway

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Jimmy Pool gives scathing opinion against ALDOT director John Cooper
Updated: May. 17, 2023 at 11:47 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - A Montgomery judge issued a scathing court ruling against Alabama Department of Transportation Director John Cooper and effectively stops any construction work on a new bridge over the intracoastal waterway in Gulf Shores.

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Jimmy Pool has told the state to “cease and desist” from building the new bridge. Among other things, Pool said that Cooper acted “in bad faith” toward the owners of the Beach Express Toll Bridge.

Pool said the only reason Cooper wants to build the new bridge is to put the toll bridge out of business.

In Pool’s 82-page ruling, he blasted Cooper. On the third page, the judge says Cooper “lied” to the people of Alabama when he claimed the new bridge was being built to alleviate traffic on the Highway 59 bridge.

In the ruling, judge pool says the new bridge project has been “a complete waste of over $120 million of taxpayer money to carry out the personal vendetta of Director Cooper.”

Pool went on to say that Cooper ordered his staff at ALDOT to build the bridge without conducting a single public meeting on the project or having a single traffic study showing whether there was any legitimate need for it.

The judge said Cooper acted in bad faith when negotiating with the toll bridge company.

Pool said the company offered to build a new two-lane bridge across the intracoastal waterway alongside the existing bridge at no cost to the state. According to the judge, the company also made many other offers that wouldn’t have cost taxpayers.

Pooled ruled the Cooper didn’t even consider those offers.

Shortly after the ruling came down, an ALDOT spokesman released a statement saying in part:

“Years of negotiations with the private toll bridge company failed to deliver a solution. The public benefit of a new, free bridge should outweigh the interests of the private toll bridge company. ALDOT will file a notice of appeal with the Alabama Supreme Court.”

A lawyer for the bridge company called the ruling a victory for the rule of law and the citizens of Alabama.