Never mind the fact that the documents the state of Alabama is basing this decision on are deeply flawed.
Never mind that nearly 50,000 grassroots Alabamians are dead set against the project. For Governor Kay Ivey, it's "Damn the public, full spead ahead!"
Monday Ivey announced that a meeting of the rarely convened Alabama Toll Road, Bridge, and Tunnel Authority will take place October 7th in Montgomery.
“That bridge is a vital project for commerce and public safety,” Ivey said. “That’s the reason for having the toll bridge road authority meeting – so that people, local, public, press, state leaders can come and share their concerns, but more importantly bring us solutions. We have to have the Bayway and the bridge built for commerce and public safety.”
Ivey was in Mobile to speak at a small business breakfast hosted by the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce.What she's not saying is that the real "witching hour" date is most likely August 30, 2019. That is the last Friday in August and the start of the long Labor Day weekend. It also happens to be the time frame for wrapping up the EIS, as revealed by ALDOT in their public meetings last May.
It's a safe bet that ALDOT will file a Final EIS on that date, claiming that the agency has addressed all public comments on the project and seek to have a Record of Decision (ROD) entered in the Federal Register.
There is a 30-day waiting period between finalization and formal entry of the agency's decision. For federal highway projects, the ROD is formal clearance for awarding contracts and beginning the pre-construction efforts.
The October 7, 2019 date will be well after the 30-day waiting period has passed. That means the time for any more meaningful public participation will have passed.
So, unless a court forces the agency to do so, ALDOT will not re-formulate the alternative plans. They will attempt to ignore the glaring technical and policy issues in their SDEIS. They will probably not listen to swelling public opposition to the project, and they will march along an ill-conceived and poorly executed plan to build a bridge that they can't pay for and nobody wants.
PS: Click here for an old but still very useful guide to the NEPA process. This is aimed at the general public, but it's not "dumbed down" at all. Good stuff.