MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) -- In Mobile Wednesday morning Alabama Department of Transportation officials gave a presentation detailing proposed toll rates for the planned Interstate 10 Bayway bridge project.
Commuters can expect to pay up to $6 for each crossing between Baldwin and Mobile counties once the $2.1 billion project is complete. There would be no early tolling ahead of the project's estimated completion in 2025, ALDOT said.
However, regular commuters would be able to purchase a $90 monthly pass for unlimited crossings under a proposed plan.
That pass would be for Class 1 vehicles -- cars, pickup trucks and motorcycles.
Officials described a segmented tolling option that is under consideration. Under that proposed system, the full rates for Virginia Street to Daphne or Canal Street to Daphne would be $6. The East Tunnel to Daphne would be $4.25. Virginia Street to Midbay and Canal Street to Midbay would each be $3.75. Midbay to Daphne would be $2.50.
To keep traffic moving freely, the system would not include physical toll plazas. Instead, drivers would be charged either from transponder devices they buy for their cars or through a system that takes pictures of license plates and then sends bills through the mail.
State officials hope to build a new bridge to provide additional capacity for cars that often get jammed at the Wallace Tunnel on I-10. In addition to the bridge – which would be nearly as tall as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Mobile project involves replacing the existing Bayway with a taller and wider crossing that could handle more vehicles and be safe from hurricanes.
Plans to toll the bridge have met with resistance. Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) released the following statement after ALDOT released its plan to toll the new Mobile Bay bridge:
"As I have said from the start, I’m opposed to tolling this project, and ALDOT's revised tolling plan is still unacceptable," Byrne stated. "South Alabamians cannot shoulder the burden of over $1,000 a year just for commuting to work. ALDOT needs to go back to the drawing board and find an alternative funding solution that will actually benefit - not hurt - those of us in Baldwin and Mobile counties.”
ALDOT detailed a 2018 study that said drivers were 25 percent likely to see a 75-minute delay during peak hours on the existing Bayway. There is a 25% chance a driver could be delayed because of a car crash and a 33% chance congestion could delay traffic.
"Traffic congestion on I-10 greatly affects the quality of life we enjoy in South Alabama, and the Mobile River Bridge and Bayway Project will increase capacity and provide necessary traffic relief for motorists traveling the corridor," said Project Director Edwin Perry. "ALDOT takes the concerns of its stakeholders seriously, especially those who provided feedback regarding the funding options for project. Our revised potential toll rate plan and frequent user discount accomplishes two things – providing the funding necessary to complete the project, while offering options to those who use it most."
ALDOT said there would be no toll booths. Instead, cameras would capture license plate information and motorists would be sent bills in the mail. Frequent users could get transponders for their vehicles that would be monitored as they cross the bridge.
Construction on the new bridge is set to begin in late 2020.
The Causeway, the Cochrane-Africatown Bridge and the Bankhead Tunnel would all remain free of cost, with no tolls for motorists.