U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, the Alabama congressman from that area, spoke recently to the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce, one of the groups most interested in how the money will be spent.
Bonner first assured the group that the money would go to the areas in Baldwin and Mobile counties that were affected.
We have got to make sure, he said, “that money come(s) back where it belongs.” That means making sure that “the federal government doesn’t come in and try to grab its share back that we’ve fought so hard to get.” In addition, he added, “we also have to make sure that our friends in Montgomery don’t try to do the same thing” — apparently, we have no “friends” in Washington.
Although he was speaking to the already convinced, this emphasis on spending the money for local projects has merit, so long as the local projects have a statewide impact.
One idea on the table is to build a new Interstate 10 bridge over the Mobile River, though that project would eat up more than $1 billion of the estimated money, and that may be a lion’s share of what the state receives.
Another suggestion is to expand the Wallace tunnel under the Mobile River, which is needed, but should this essentially local project be given priority over others?
Because the money will be parceled out by a 10-member commission that is dominated by local political and business interests, it is certain that political and business considerations will determine where the money is spent.
When the commission sits down to decide, this page hopes that it will also consider what Rep. Bonner also suggested, that the money be invested “to do really big things for generations to come.”
Even if the money is spent on projects that are local in nature, if what is done helps the economic growth of those counties, the state will benefit. That’s why this issue is a serious one for Alabamians who don’t live in coastal counties.
In recent years, south Alabama has attracted industries and created jobs. Spending this money to help that region continue to grow economically can only help us all. Like Rep. Bonner, we hope the commission will keep an eye on the future when it decides what will be done now.