MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - The Alabama Department of Transportation said traffic flowed smoothly Monday morning even though the Bankhead Tunnel is closed.
ALDOT officials said after 70 years of use, the Bankhead was due for some repair and maintenance.
"We had to go in and remove the existing roadway, we had to saw cutout the old existing concrete. We had to add some additional steel and we had to replace the corrosive steel that was there with some new galvanized steel drainage system," said Matt Ericksen, Assistant Division Engineer construction with the Alabama Department of Transportation.
The DOT has closed the tunnel for 10 days instead of weekends, so that it can do the work properly.
"Our workers are working around the clock to expedite this work. So hopefully, we'll have the tunnel back open prior to Monday at 5:00 a.m.," said Ericksen.
The cost to repair the Bankhead Tunnel is about $150,000.
About 15,000 drivers travel through the tunnel every day, outside of summertime commuters.
The Bankhead is named after Alabama politician, U.S. Senator John Hollis Bankhead.
It was originally constructed at a Mobile dry dock, sunk in the river and joined underwater, workers completed it in 1940.
"It's like an old house; you've got to perform routine maintenance on it occasionally," said Ericksen.
Behind the scenes work is taking place on a proposed Mobile Bay Bridge. ALDOT officials said environmental work is underway now; funding needed to move the proposed project forward became available only recently.
"You've got to have the funds to do the preliminary engineering -- it's a very extensive project, the environmental process just takes time to review all the proposed routes that you can take and see which ones have the least amount of impact," said Ericksen.
ALDOT plans to have its first public hearing on the Mobile Bay Bridge proposal by the end of this year, no date has been set yet.
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