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Australian firm buys Alabama's toll bridges

TUSCALOOSA (AP) — An Australian company with investments throughout the world has acquired all of Alabama's private toll bridges.

Macquarie Bank reported in its midyear financial report that one of its affiliated companies took control of three Alabama toll bridges — Black Warrior River Parkway in Tuscaloosa and Central Alabama River Parkway and Emerald Mountain Expressway Bridge in Montgomery — on May 12. The bridges were developed by Jim Allen's United Toll Systems of Wetumpka. The purchase price was not disclosed.

In December 2005, a Macquarie-controlled company acquired the Foley Beach Express on the Alabama coast for $95 million, according to the company's annual report earlier this year. The bridge was developed by Tim James of Greenville, son of former Gov. Fob James.

The Tuscaloosa News reported Sunday that deed papers filed in Tuscaloosa County on May 16 show the Black Warrior bridge was sold to Macquarie's Small Cap Roads. Fees paid on the deed indicate the sale price was about $48 million, the newspaper said.

The Tuscaloosa and Montgomery bridges changed hands shortly before Allen testified in the federal court trial of former Gov. Don Siegelman, former state Transportation Director Mack Roberts and two others on May 25-26 in Montgomery. Allen testified that during Siegelman's successful 1998 campaign for governor, Siegelman told him he could pick the next state transportation director in return for $40,000 in campaign contributions, which Allen said he made.

Roberts, who had worked for Allen, became Siegelman's transportation director in 1999.

In June, the jury acquitted Roberts. Siegelman was convicted, but not on charges involving Allen's campaign contribution.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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