ALDOT plans to move forward with Mobile River Bridge and Bayway Project
MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - The Eastern Shore and Mobile Metropolitan Planning Organizations today announced that the Alabama Department of Transportation will move forward with the Mobile River Bridge and Bayway Project, prior to knowing the results of outstanding applications for federal Mega Grant and Bridge Investment Program funding.
In a memo sent to the chairs of the Eastern Shore and Mobile MPOs, ALDOT states:
“ALDOT is moving forward with this project, utilizing funds from the $125 million federal INFRA grant as well as a commitment of at least $250 million in State funding.
“ALDOT and the nationally recognized financial experts working on the project agree that this project is financially viable, regardless of the result of our outstanding applications (filed pursuant to your instructions) for Mega Grant and Bridge Investment Program funding.
“This stronger posture is made possible by improvements in projected traffic and revenue numbers for the project as initial estimates were refined. Further strengthening its financial viability are the recent changes in federal law and regulatory guidance which potentially allow for this project to qualify for higher TIFIA loan amounts.”
A news release states that ALDOT will continue to pursue funding opportunities with the U.S. Department of Transportation but will not delay moving forward pending future grant awards.
“This is fantastic news,” said Eastern Shore MPO chair and Fairhope City Council member Jack Burrell for the news release. “We are closer than ever before to the new bridge and Bayway that South Alabama desperately needs. This news, combined with the good progress in selecting the teams that will design and build the project, should be music to the ears of the thousands of drivers who are tired of sitting on the Bayway or in the tunnels.”
“Today’s announcement is a clear signal that the State of Alabama is serious about building this bridge,” said Mobile MPO chair and Mayor of Mobile Sandy Stimpson for the release. “Ultimately, we are further along in this process than at any point before and have a clear path toward solving the worst bottleneck on the I-10 corridor.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation Mega Grant program, in addition to the Bridge Investment Program, were created in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The Mega grant program is a highly competitive, national program that includes $1 billion in federal funding that is expected to be allocated this year.
According to ALDOT, the design-build teams who have registered for the project will submit their statements of qualification by Dec. 21, a key milestone in the project’s early phases.
Plan details include:
- A comprehensive plan with a new Mobile River Bridge and a new Bayway that meets capacity and safety needs and can be built in five years
- Free, no-toll routes on the Causeway, Wallace Tunnel, Bankhead Tunnel, and Africatown Bridge
- Toll options of $2.50 or less for passenger vehicles, and $18.00 or less for trucks
- An unlimited use option for $40 per month, which is under $1 per trip for daily commuters between Mobile and Baldwin Counties
- Toll revenue to be used only to pay down project debt, with tolling to end once the debt is paid off
- All infrastructure to be owned and operated by the State of Alabama, with no private concessionaire
- A contribution of at least $250 million in State funding, in addition to $125 million in federal funding through an INFRA Grant
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