Decision on federal money for new Mobile bridge expected in June


Washington just might be persuaded to help pay for the new I-10 bridge because their part of the tab could be much less than expected.

A local delegation just got back from the nation's capital meeting with staff members from President Trump's office and the office of the Secretary of Transportation trying to get federal money for the bridge.

One member said he's optimistic because the federal government is not being asked for as much money as it had been originally. The partnership, which included Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson as well as other city and county leaders from Mobile and Baldwin Counties, applied for a $250 million dollar grant from the federal government.

It's called an INFRA Grant, short for Infrastructure For Rebuilding America.

The entire estimated cost of the bridge is $2 billion.

Baldwin County Commissioner Chris Elliott was one of the members of the delegation.

When asked how receptive federal officials seemed to be, Elliott said, "Very receptive."

Elliott said he's optimistic because the delegation is asking for less federal money than before. He said, "It used to be an 80/20 federal to state match, and now we have almost reversed that to be a 20/80." Mobile County Commission President Connie Hudson, who was also in the meetings, said the grant money awarded could be for less than $250 million, but she's hopeful the amount will be sizable because of the magnitude of the project, "what it will do for improving transportation all across the I-10 region of our country." Elliott said the local money in the 80 percent split would come from bonds, some state money, private investor money, and tolls.

Project developers are looking at a toll at between three and five dollars per car, but Elliott said most drivers expected to use the bridge won't live in this area. Elliott said, "We're working very hard to make sure that there's some sort of cap on the tolls paid by locals, so that you won't pay more than say 30 dollars or 40 dollars a month." We apparently wont have to wait long before we find out if we're getting any federal money, and how much. Hudson said, "We should know in a few weeks where that stands."

Three project teams are presenting proposals to the state for design, build, finance and maintain the Mobile River Bridge.

Proposals will be due this fall, with the selected team expected to be chosen by the end of the year, and the bridge ready for traffic in 2025.

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