Alabama has not ever relied on toll roads much.
About the only toll I can think of that I have used much is the toll bridge over the Intracoastal Canal at Orange Beach and it was built by a private company, which used the tolls to pay for it.
A proposed toll bridge over the I-10 Causeway east of Mobile caused so much controversy recently that the State Department of Transportation took the proposal off the table. That preliminary proposal was to charge $6 one way, although there was to be a discount for frequent use. But at the base rate, a commuter in Baldwin County would have to pay $12 to go to work and back in Mobile.
Another private toll project is in the preliminary stages for a bridge over Lay Lake/Coosa River to connect Shelby and Talladega counties.
The social media was used by toll opponents to attack the Mobile project. That pointed to the fact that a major interstate road project was being undertaken in Birmingham without tolls. Now, two legislators want to make it more difficult for public bodies to build toll roads.
Rep. Tommy Hanes, R.-Bryant, proposed the so-called “No Tolls Amendment, which would require pre-approval by the voters. Legislation by Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Daphne, would require state officials to conduct an economic impact study before a toll project is undertaken.
If they clear the Legislature, those bills would have to be approved by the people in a referendum to become law.
Senate race gets nasty
We knew it was too good to be true that the candidates for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate were just getting along. Now, the leading three candidates are sparring. From the outset, let me state that in politics candidates normally attack from the rear. To use the ever-present southern sports analogy, someone who is running for a touchdown does not turn around and block the players chasing him.
Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) fired one of the first volleys, going up with an ad accusing former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville of favoring amnesty for aliens here. Tuberville dismissed the Byrne accusation as “fake news.”
Former U.S. Sen Jeff Sessions accused Tuberville of being a ”tourist” in Alabama who really lives in Florida.
Sessions noted that Byrne in 2016 had said that Donald Trump was “not fit” to be president after tapes were released in which Trump made vulgar comments about women. Byrne, meanwhile, is running ads indicating that he has a 97 percent voting record with Trump.
Tuberville, meanwhile, ran ads depicting Sessions and Byrne as “weak kneed career politicians” not tough enough to do the job.
The primary is March 3. The winner is expected to face incumbent U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Mountain Brook, in the November general election — when the race is really expected to be dirty.
Retired Auburn Attorney Don Eddins is publisher of The Auburn Villager newspaper and the online publication, auburnvillager.com. Before going into law, he was state Capitol reporter for The Huntsville Times and state editor for The Columbus Ledger. In college, he was sports editor of The Auburn Plainsman. Email him your comments about the newspaper to email@example.com.