Plan for massive Alabama bridge across Mobile River resurrected
Published 5:44 am Thursday, December 16, 2021
Officials on the Alabama coast have resurrected a plan to build a massive Interstate 10 bridge across the Mobile River and expand the highway across Mobile Bay, voting Wednesday to push the project ahead without the large tolls that doomed the plan two years ago.
Toll prices would be limited to $2.50, down from as much as $6 under the previous plan, and a free route across the heavily traveled northern end of Mobile Bay would still be available through Wallace Tunnel and existing roads, news outlets reported.
Officials in both Mobile and Baldwin County approved a framework for the project, which they said is vital to easing congestion and improving safety along the heavily traveled east-west route linking Jacksonville, Florida, with Los Angeles.
“It is truly a historic and happy day not only for the region but the nation,” said Jack Burrell, a member of the regional planning organizations, told a news conference.
Instead of work lasting 25 years or longer, the new plan would reduce the construction period to about five years.
Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson said there was a sense of urgency because the state risks losing a $125 million federal grant that is set to expire in September if the project is not in the pipeline. In addition to that money, the state has pledged $250 million. A $300 million federal loan would be repaid with toll revenues.
Toll opponents who killed the project in 2019 said they remain opposed to any told, even a reduced one, but state officials have said that tolls were the only way to fund the project.
Under the plan, tolls would be charged only on the new bridge over the Mobile River and a newly constructed and elevated Bayway that would extend 7.5 miles (12.07 kilometers) from Mobile to U.S. 98 in Daphne.